(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "conscience in revolt"

1 07 943 



CONSCIENCE IN REVOLX 



CONSCIENCE IN 
REVOLT 

Sixty-four Stories of 
Resistance in Germany 1933-45 

COLLECTED BY 

ANNEDORE LEBER 

ASSISTED BY 

WILLY BRANDT & KARL DIETRICH BRACHER 

WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM 

HILDE WALTER 
WOLFGANG STEGLICH & HARALD POELCHAU 



Introduction by 

ROBERT BIRLEY 

Headmaster of Eton College 



ASSOCIATED BOOKSELLERS 

CONN, 



Copyright by 

VALLENTINE, MITCHELL & CO. LTD 

37 Furaival Street, London, EC4 

1957 



First published in Germany in 1954 under the title of 

Das Gewissen Steht Auf 

by Mosaik-Verlag, Berlin 



Translated from the German by 
ROSEMARY O'NEILL 



AH photographs in this book are privately owned, 
except where otherwise indicated 



MADE AND PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY C. TINLING & CO. LTD 
LIVERPOOL, LONDON AND PRESCOT 



CONTENTS 



Introduction by ROBERT BIRLEY 
Preface ..... 



page 
vii 

XXV 



YOUTH 

Introduction 

ANTON' SCHMAUS . 

HELMUTH HUBENER 

HILDA MONTE 

JONATHAN STARK . 

SOPHIE SCROLL 

HEINZ BELLO 

FRIEDRICH KARL KLAUSING 

MICHAEL KITZELMANN 



1 

4 

7 

11 

14 

16 

20 

24 

27 



LEARNING 

Introduction .... 
CARL VON OSSIETZKY . 
FRITZ SOLMITZ 
KURTHUBER .... 
ELISABETH VON THADDEN . 
NIKOLAUS GROSS . 
ERICH KNAUF .... 
ADOLF REICHWEIN 
WALTHER ARNDT . 



32 
34 
38 
42 
46 
49 
52 
62 
66 



FRIENDSHIP 



Introduction 

JOACHIM GOTTSCHALK 
LILO GLOEDEN 
LOTHAR ERDMANN 
GERTRUD SEELE 
ERNST HEILMANN 
WILLI HAUSSLER 
HEINRICH JASPER 
HANS SCHIFTAN 
JOHANNA KIRCHNER 
WILHELM LEUSCHNER . 
BERNHARD LETTERHAUS 



70 

72 

76 

79 

82 

86 

90 

94 

97 

100 

103 

107 



THE STATE AND THE LAW 



Introduction 
WALTER GEMPP 
MARTIN GAUGER . 
HANS VON DOHNANYI 



110 
112 
115 
119 



page 

MARIA TERWIEL 123 

ERNST VON HARNACK 127 

FRITZ ELSAS 132 

JOSEPH WIRMER 136 

BERTHOLD SCHENCK 

GRAF VON STAUFFENBERG . . 139 

ERWIN PLANCK 142 

KLAUS BONHOEFFER 145 

RUDIGER SCHLEICHER 149 

TRADITION 

Introduction . 152 

ADOLF VON HARNIER ... .155 

OTTO KARL KIEP .... .159 

KARL FRIEDRICH GOERDELER . . 163 

EWALD VON KLEIST SCHMENZIN . . 166 

LUDWIG BECK .... .170 

HANS OSTER .173 

HENNING VON TRESCKOW . .177 
ULRICH-WILHELM 

GRAF SCHWERIN VON SCHWANENFELD . 180 

PETER GRAF YORCK VON WARTENBURG . 184 



CHRISTIANITY 

Introduction .... 

ERICH KLAUSENER . 
KARL FRIEDRICH STELLBRINK 
BERNHARD LICHTENBERG . 
EDITH STEIN .... 
MAX JOSEF METZGER . 
FRIEDRICH JUSTUS PERELS . 
DIETRICH BONHOEFFER 
THEO HESPERS 
ALFRED DELP 
HANS-BERND VON HAEFTEN 
HELMUTH JAMES GRAF VON MOLTKE 

FREEDOM AND ORDER 

Introduction ..... 

CARLO MIERENDORFF . 
THEODOR HAUBACH . 
FRTTZ-DIETLOF 

GRAF VON DER SCHULENBURG 
ADAM VON TROTT ZU SOLZ 
JULIUS LEBER .... 

CLAUS SCHENCK 

GRAF VON STAUFFENBERG 

Bibliography 



187 
190 
194 
198 
203 
208 
212 
216 
220 
224 
227 
231 



234 
238 
243 

247 
251 
255 

260 
264 



VI 



INTRODUCTION 

By Robert Birley Headmaster of Eton College 

THE appearance in an English translation of this book on sixty- 
four Germans, the representatives of thousands, who died oppos- 
ing the Nazis, is timely. 

The acceptance of Western Germany as a member of the West 
European and Atlantic system of nations has been a decision of 
very great difficulty, and has caused political tensions in several 
countries, including our own. As long as Germany was entirely 
subjugated, the country might be the field of a diplomatic struggle 
between East and West, but the German people themselves 
seemed hardly to be part of the problem. However, when 
Western Germany became a possible partner in an alliance, the 
character and traditions of the people could no longer be ignored. 
It is not surprising, therefore, that several books, widely pub- 
licised and widely read, should have appeared, reminding 
Englishmen of the atrocities of the Nazi regime. This book is in 
no sense an answer to them. But it is an essential part of the 
evidence, and one largely neglected in this country, which must 
be considered if the problem of the German people, now, once 
more, one of vital urgency, is studied. 

There is no answer to the accounts of the Nazi terror. Some 
may, perhaps, be inaccurate in points of detail and may at times 
rely too confidently on hearsay evidence, but the main facts about 
it are quite incontrovertible. This book will not appear, at first, in 
any way to lull the fears of those who are alarmed at the prospect 
of the rearming of Germany. Rather, the true picture of the 
horrors of the time is incomplete without it. But when English- 
men ask themselves the questions, which they certainly ought to 
ask: 'Can we trust a nation responsible for such deeds? Can we 
be morally justified in so dose an association with it? Does such 
an association amount to a condonation of the Nazi period in its 
history?* They will find this book indispensable, if they are to 
find the true answer. 

In order to understand this book, it is necessary to know some- 
thing of the historical background of the Germany which saw 
the rise to power of the Nazis and their twelve years* rule. Not 
that a study of history will easily explain this phenomenon: 
Never before in European history has there been anything so 

vii 



astounding as the Nazi revolution. The rest of Europe was quite 
unprepared for such a cataclysmic return to barbarism. The first 
world war was a terrible catastrophe, but ten years later what 
seemed most obvious was the resilience of Europe, its ability to 
recover from the disaster. In 1928 an eminent English fudge, Lord 
Maugham, wrote in a study of the case of Jean Galas, "Things 
have changed very greatly in the west of Europe since the year 
1761, and we can be assured that the tragiohistory of Jean Galas 
can never be repeated. The essential change is in the direction 
of greater humanity. A complete toleration of the religious views 
of others, a hatred of cruelty to man or beast, a more generous 
sympathy with others and a public opinion whose power is 
scarcely yet fully realised these are the things which in a com- 
plex, unsatisfactory and often disquieting civilisation, may reason- 
ably give us hope for the future of the world.' Five years later 
Europe saw established in one of its greatest countries a govern- 
ment which quite openly used as one of its chief weapons the 
ruthless infliction of physical pain. A few days saw the establish- 
ment, as part of the normal order of things, of the Concentration 
Camp: there had never been anything so horrible before in 
European history. A study of historical events, one might think, 
should be able to explain the violence which usually accompanies 
revolutions, excesses such as those which marked the Wars of 
Religion or the Terror' under the Committee of Public Safety in 
1793 and 1794, but not this deliberate and organised system of 
cruelty. 

Europe saw a return to the world of the Apocalypse. How 
pointless, how incongruous the absurd figures from that book 
have come to appear, the 'great red dragon, having seven heads 
and ten horns', the beast which had 'a mouth speaking great 
things and blasphemies', the other beast which 'exertiseth all the 
power of the first beast before him'. One day, not long after the 
end of the war, I visited the Spielberg, the great fortress standing 
above the town of Brno, in Czechoslovakia. It had been the head- 
quarters of the Gestapo in that country, the scene of unimaginable 
cruelties. The chapel of the castle had been turned into a place of 
worship for the new Nazi pagan religion, and after the war the 
Czechs had left it untouched. In place of the altar was a huge 
block of stone, with an Iron Cross carved on the front, and on it 
was placed, lit with electric lights, the Gospel of the new religion, 
Hitler's Mein Kampf. Above, where before had hung a picture 
of the crucified Christ, was fixed an immense eagle, carved in 
viii 



stone, its talons reaching downwards. Never since then have the 
figures of the Book etRevelations seemed to me absurd or unreal. 

We feel, indeed, that we are beyond the sphere of History. 
Yet these things actually happened, and we must examine, of 
necessity very shortly, the history of the period. 

Germany at the end of the First World War established a 
parliamentary republican government. Mr J. W. Wheeler-Bennett, 
in his book, The Nemesis of Power: the German Army in Politics, 
1918-1945, has seen in an incident on the very first day of its estab- 
lishment, 9 November 1918, the fatal decision which ultimately 
condemned it to futility. A Socialist government was formed in 
Berlin under Fritz Ebert, which was at its birth menaced by a 
Communist revolution. That night over the telephone he came to 
an agreement with the Army. If the Government would restore 
order and co-operate with the Officer Corps in suppressing 
Bolshevism and in the maintenance of discipline in the Army, the 
High Command would bring the Army peacefully home and the 
safety of the Government would be assured. Thus, in half a 
dozen sentences over the telephone line, a pact was concluded 
between a defeated Army and a tottering semi-revolutionary 
regime; a pact destined to save both parties from the extreme 
elements of revolution, but, as a result of which, the Weimar 
Republic was doomed at birth/ With the support of the Army, 
even after it had been reduced by the Treaty of Versailles to 
100,000 men, the Government was able to suppress attempts to 
overthrow it from the Left and the Right. Credit must be allowed, 
however and it is often denied ^to the German civilian states- 
men of the first years of the Weimar Republic. They saw it 
through the crisis when the allied peace terms were almost 
rejected; the militarist coup d&<& known as the Kapp Putsch, in 
March 1920, when indeed the Army all but abandoned it; the 
crisis in 1923, when Germany failed to pay reparations and the 
French occupied the Ruhr; and the great Inflation of 1924, After 
this the Republic sailed into calmer waters. The attempt to exact 
reparations from Germany was tacitly abandoned, the allied 
troops were withdrawn from the Rhineland, and the Locarno 
Treaty of 1925 paved the way for the admission of Germany to 
the League of Nations. With the election of Hindenburg as 
President in April 1925, the conservative parties seemed to have 
accepted the Republic, which up till then had had little real 
support, except from the socialist and the more liberal elements 
of the middle classes. 



The Republic, however, was very far from safe. The Free Corps, 
illegal bands of unemployed and disappointed soldiers, called 
into being during the months of anarchy after the war, were dis- 
solved in 1920, but many continued to exist as secret societies. 
The Communists, defeated in their initial attempt to seize power, 
were able to poll nearly two million votes for their candidate in 
the Presidential Election of 1925. Revolutionary groups proli- 
ferated; among them, with its leader an obscure ex-corporal, Adolf 
Hitler, the National Socialist German Workers' Party. This had 
attempted a coup cTStat in Munich in 1923, which had failed 
ignominiously, but it somehow kept in being for the next few 
years. And the comparative economic prosperity of this period 
was an illusion. 

The Republic was not nearly strong enough to resist the impact 
of the great industrial depression, which began in 1929. No 
one who was in Germany during this great disaster could fail 
to recognise its effects, the sense of frustration and despair which 
overwhelmed, in particular, the youth of the nation. It is more 
difficult to blame the German Government for failing to deal 
with this crisis than for its policy during the more prosperous 
period before it The Chancellor, Heinrich Briining, was the most 
honest and certainly one of the ablest statesmen of the Weimar 
regime. But he was never in a position to control the situation. 
The Reichstag gave him little support and he was forced to try 
to uphold a parliamentary regime by the use of decrees which 
received no parliamentary authority. 

Englishmen should realise the difference between the situation 
in their own country and that in Germany during these critical 
years. Here the economic policy of the National Government may 
have been faulty, but the Government received solid backing at 
elections and in parliament. In Germany the Government could 
never rely on a parliamentary majority. Here the economic 
foundations of the country proved strong enough to stand the 
shock; in Germany they had never really recovered from the 
anarchy after the war and the inflation of 1924. Here the Com- 
munists were far too weak to make much capital out of a situation 
which was apparently so favourable to them; in Germany they 
were a large and well-organised party, skilled in the use of 
political violence and always ready to resort to it. And in Germany 
there was a party and a leader ready to exploit the situation. 

The Nazis did not come to power as a result of an electoral 
victory. In July 1932, they became the largest party in the 



Reichstag with 230 seats, more than double their previous number, 
but in a house of 630 members this was some way from a majority. 
The Social Democrats and the two Catholic parties had together 
exactly the same number. In November of the same year at 
another election their number declined to 196. Local elections in 
December showed that the loss of ground was continuing. And 
yet, on 30 January 1933, Hitler became Chancellor, being placed 
in this position as the result of intrigues by the Army and 
Nationalist leaders. Six weeks later, with the Communists 
eliminated by force, all the political parties, except the Social 
Democrats, united to place full powers in his hands. A few months 
later they all accepted dissolution without a murmur. In this way, 
without any long drawn out civil war, the revolution took place. 
It was the most appalling catastrophe in European history. 

If one tries to discover in German history the reasons for this 
disaster, one finds oneself reciting a kind of parody of the House 
that Jack built The Nazis came into power because of the failure 
of the Weimar regime. The difficulties of this regime were quite 
genuine. What else could Ebert have done on the night of 
9 November 1918? Without the support of the Army for the 
Government, a Communist dictatorship seemed certain. Why 
were the Germans unable to form a strong government without 
relying on the Army? Because under the Empire they had never 
gained any true experience of parliamentary rule or any sense of 
democratic responsibility. Why was this? Because under Bismarck 
Germany had gained her legitimate goal of political unity through 
military victory. Why had she been compelled to accomplish it in 
this way? Because her attempt to do so by parliamentary means 
in 1848 had failed, so that Bismarck could say with truth 'What 
Germany wants in Prussia is not her liberalism, but her strength/ 
Why was the revolution of 1848 such a failure? Because the 
German principalities had been able to prevent the growth of 
liberal nationalism during the years of the French Revolution. 
Why were these principalities in a position to do this? Why was 
German unity so long delayed? Because Germany had failed 
during the later Middle Ages and the sixteenth century to develop, 
as France had done, into a National State. And so it goes on, until 
one may find oneself wondering whether the ultimate cause was 
not that Germany never became part of the Roman Empire. Was 
the reason in the end largely geographical, that Germany in the 
first century B.C. was a land of forests and swamps, which made 
any political cohesion impossible, compared with Gaul, which was 

xi 



already a country with roads down which armies might march 
and enough unity at least to make it conquerable? 

The whole process can be made to appear quite inevitable- 
until one remembers that other nations do not seem to have been 
so completely at the mercy of events. If they were able to attain 
a happier state of affairs, it was as a result of political decisions, 
taken by resolute men, ready to sacrifice themselves to secure 
them. They were acts of will. What seems to be missing in 
German history is the determination to control events, except in 
certain individuals, such as Bismarck and Hitler, who were ready 
to exploit this failing in the German character. 

The Nazis, then, obtained power as the result of a surrender, a 
surrender especially by the more conservative elements in 
Germany. Even after the election of Hindenburg as President, 
they had steadily refused to accept responsibility for the govern- 
ment of the country. This goes far to explain the difficulties of 
those who opposed Hitler once he had gained power. There was 
no tradition on which a movement of resistance could be built, 
except among the Social Democrats, who were always a minority, 
and among the Communists, who were anxious to set up one land 
of totalitarian regime in place of another. We must recognise also 
how the nature of the modern state, more powerful than any 
state has ever been before, plays into the hands of a totalitarian 
government. Opposition to any regime now needs a tradition that 
the government should itself make opposition possible. 

Once the Nazi government came into existence, the great 
majority of Germans simply accepted it as inevitable. After all, 
most people in any country do not concern themselves much with 
politics, they merely ask to be allowed to live their own lives and 
do their own work. But it is futile for the Germans to excuse 
themselves by saying that they did not know what was happening. 
Most, no doubt, were not aware of the full horror of the Con- 
centration Camps. But no party has ever been more open in 
avowing its aims and methods than were the Nazis. One had only 
to see them walking down the street to realise perfectly well 
what land of people they were. 

A far more serious charge lies against those, especially the 
well-educated, who in various ways actively supported the Nazi 
government, although they did not accept its principles. Not long 
after the Nazi revolution, a professor at one of the Rhineland 
universities, a genuine opponent, who had later to flee the 
country, had cause to visit the Ministry of Education in Berlin, 
xii 



There he was astonished to meet among the officials one of his 
former colleagues, whom he knew to be no supporter of the 
Nazis. This man felt it necessary to excuse himself: 'Do not mis- 
judge me/ he said, 1 am not a Nazi. Very few of us here are. They 
have put in a few members of the Party, of course, but they are 
quite useless. They have no idea what administration means. It 
is the rest of us who keep the Ministry going. No, we are not 
Nazis. We call ourselves the "Spezis" (Spezidisten : specialists)/ 
This was worse than a conscious abandonment of responsibility; 
it was a complete failure to realise that they had any responsibility 
at all. Even then, one must recognise the dilemma in which many 
were placed who did not approve of Nazi rule or were even 
disgusted by it. Opposition would mean not only disaster, and 
quite possibly torture and death for themselves, but also utter 
ruin for their families. It is difficult for Englishmen to blame them. 
We have never been faced with such a dilemma. Nor need one 
wholly discount the plea, so often advanced, that they knew that, 
if they abandoned office, they would only be replaced by men 
who would carry out the intentions of the Nazis more vigorously. 
In a sense, there was no Resistance Movement in Germany 
against the Nazis. In a modern totalitarian state such a move- 
ment is only possible if there is widespread popular feeling 
against the tyranny, as when a country is militarily occupied, and 
even then it depends on the hope of help from outside. Most men 
will only resist if they feel that an alternative government is at 
least possible. For the first five years of Nazi rule there could be 
little more than isolated acts of resistance and these could hardly 
take the form of more than outspoken criticism. For some time, 
however, there existed many groups of active opponents in the 
factories, who kept the spirit of resistance alive by secret meet- 
ings and the distribution of illegal pamphlets and who were in 
touch with German political exiles abroad. Among their leaders 
were Alwin Brandes and Else Nieviera. Brandes, a former Chair- 
man of the Metal Workers' Union, was at the head of a whole net- 
work of such groups, which was broken up by the Gestapo at die 
beginning of 1936. Else Nieviera, also a prominent Trade 
Unionist, had done remarkable work among the women textile 
workers. The group, of which she was the leader, tried to keep in 
close touch with Trade Unions abroad but was broken up in the 
spring of 1939; she was herself sentenced to two and a half years* 
imprisonment and was killed in an air-raid in 1944 Altogether, 
thousands of workers suffered in concentration camps during this 

xiii 



early period. Their history is almost unknown in this country. 
There were writers also who were not prepared to be subservient 
to the government, like Carl von Ossietzky who figures in this 
book, and, above all, Rudolf Pechel, the editor of the Deutsche 
Rundschau, the most resolute of all literary opponents of the 
Nazis, who survived imprisonment in concentration camps and 
is one of the leading political writers in Germany today. Some of 
the figures in this book belong to these early years of the tyranny 
and their lonely heroism is in some ways the finest of all. 

In the meantime Hitler had crushed the dissidents in his own 
party and had murdered many of his old political opponents in 
the appalling massacres of 30 June 1934. A month later, on 
1 August, Hindenburg died and Hitler succeeded him as Leader 
and Chancellor. Next day the whole Army took the Oath of 
Allegiance to him. It was, perhaps, his greatest victory. For the 
Army was the only power in Germany which could possibly resist 
the Nazis successfully. It was not until the great crisis of 
February 1938, when Hitler outmanoeuvred the generals and 
himself became War Minister, that a movement grew up in the 
Army itself which was ready to overthrow the regime. It was to 
lead eventually to the great conspiracy of 20 July 1944. Because it 
is so much better documented, there is some danger that its 
development, along with that of various civilian groups closely 
connected with it, may come to be regarded as the only mani- 
festation of resistance in Germany during the war. This book is 
enough to show that there were others. 

Let Sophie Scholl, some of whose letters are printed here, stand 
for those whose resistance was a more desperate and lonely act 
of defiance. She belonged, with her brother, Hans, to a secret 
society of students at Munich University, known as the White 
Rose, who were assisted by one of their professors, Kurt Huber, 
of whom also an account will be found here. The group, which 
had been distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets, came into the open in 
February 1943, when the Nazi Gauleiter of Bavaria addressed 
the students on their patriotic duty. Characteristically, he called 
on the girls to bear a child each year of their studentship as their 
contribution to the nation. The students spontaneously demon- 
strated against him and three days later Hans and Sophie Scholl 
and other members of the White Rose scattered pamphlets, which 
Huber had written, from a balcony in the University. They were 
arrested, tortured and brought before the People's Court, which 
had been constituted by Hitler to deal with any manifestations 
3dv 



against the government, under its President, Roland Freisler. His 
is a name which will often be met with in this book. In the whole 
long roll in history of judges who have used their position to show 
their venom and cruelty, his is without a peer. The brother and 
sister, with another student, were condemned to death on 18 April, 
and hanged. Huber and three other students were executed a 
few days later. Sophie's bearing at her trial was magnificent. 
Reading of it is like reading the trial of Joan of Arc. The roles 
seem to be reversed: it is the prisoner who prosecutes. 

Archbishop Temple said in 1943 that 'the one effective centre 
of resistance to Nazi oppression in Germany has been the 
Christian Church'. That may have gone too far. In the Protestant 
Churches in Germany there was a strong tradition against any 
intrusion into the political sphere; the Vatican concluded a 
Concordat with the Nazi government within six months of its 
establishment. It was not until some years later that the Churches 
can be regarded as in any way officially opposing the Nazis. But 
all the time there were individuals who protested and refused to 
accept the persecution of the Jews. Few finer statements were 
made against the Nazis than one by von Galen, the Roman 
Catholic Bishop of Miinster, always an opponent of the regime. 
In a sermon in his Cathedral after a devastating air-raid on the 
city, he asked his congregation whether, when they had fled from 
their burning homes, they had remembered how the Jews had had 
to do the same on the night of the great pogrom of November 
1938. Hundreds of Protestant Pastors, who joined the movement 
of the Confessional Church against the Nazi attempt to gain 
control of the Evangelical Church, suffered in concentration 
camps; many ware executed. The resistance of Pastor Niemoller 
was the one act of opposition to the Nazis which was well known 
at the time to people in this country. 

At least half of the persons of whom we read in this book, how- 
ever, were members of the movement which reached its end on 
20 July 1944. It may help the English reader if some account is 
given of it, with a description of the main groups of which it was 
composed, and also if some of the characters in the book are 
specially referred to. 

The leading figure in the Army opposing Hitler was Ludwig 
Beck, Chief of the General Staff from 1935 to 1938. A remarkable 
number of the German generals were, at one time or another, 
fully aware of the plots against Hitler, even though most of them 
did no more than wait to see which way the cat would jump. 

rv 



Among those who were wholly in support of the movement, how- 
ever, were General (later Field-Marshal}.von Witzleben; General 
von Tresckow, who had first supported the Nazis, but was to 
become one of the main figures in the conspiracy during the war; 
and General Olbricht, in 1944 Chief of the General Army Office 
and deputy to the Commander-in-Chief of the Reserve Army. 
One important group was to be found, incongruously enough, in 
the Abwehr, or Military Intelligence Service, whose head, Admiral 
Canaris, gave shelter in his organisation to many of the opponents 
of the regime, the most active of whom was General Oster. 

We may consider next some highly placed civilians, of whom 
the most important was Karl Goerdeler, Mayor of Leipzig from 
1923 to 1937, who had resigned from the post of Price Com- 
missioner under the Nazi government when he saw that Hitler's 
economic policy was directed to a war, and from his Mayoralty 
in protest at the persecution of the Jews. With General Beck, he 
was the leader of the resistance to the Nazis; if the conspiracy 
had been successful Beck would have become Reichsverweser, 
or Head of the State, and Goerdeler Chancellor. Professor Popitz, 
who was Prussian Minister of Finance, represented the most con- 
servative element in the conspiracy. Ulrich von Hassell, one of the 
leading German diplomats, had been Ambassador in Rome until 
1937. His Diaries, which were preserved, tell us much of its 
history. 

A very important part was played by a group of younger men, 
some of the leading members of which were closely related to 
one another: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who had been Pastor of the 
Lutheran Church in London, was one of the chief figures in the 
Confessional Church, which led the resistance of the German 
Protestants to the Nazis; his brother, Klaus Bonhoeffer; their two 
brothers-in-law, Hans von Dohnanyi, the ablest organiser in the 
group until his early arrest, who was from the first in touch with 
Beck and Oster, and Professor Rlidiger Schleicher. One member 
of the group, who miraculously survived, was Fabian von 
Schlabrendorff, and his book, Offiziere gegen Hitler, gives an 
account of the conspiracy which perhaps brings us nearer to an 
understanding of the difficulties of the enterprise and of the 
courage of those who resisted Hitler, than any other. 

Helmut Graf von Moltke was the leader of a group, known as 
the Kreisau Circle, from his home in Silesia, where they often 
met. It should not be thought of as in any way an organised 
society, but among its members were most of those who, one 
xvi 



feels, had realised that opposition to Hitler made necessary a new 
and dynamic political philosophy, and that a return to the 
Germany of pre-Nazi days was no longer practicable. It started 
at the beginning of the war as a group of personal friends, in par- 
ticular von Moltke and his cousin, Peter Yorck von Wartenburg. 
Among them was Adam von Trott zu Solz, a former Rhodes 
Scholar of Balliol College, and Hans-Bernd von Haeften, who 
were young members of the Foreign Office; representatives of the 
Churches, such as Father Alfred Delp and the Protestant Dr 
Eugen Gerstenmaier, one of the three men at the very centre of 
the conspiracy on 20 July who escaped, and now President of the 
Bundestag. In friendly relations with it were some leading mem- 
bers of the Social Democrat Party, Julius Leber, whose widow 
has written this book he would have been Minister of the 
Interior, if the plot had succeeded: what would he not have 
given to Germany and to Europe if he had survived Carlo 
Mierendorff, who was killed in an air-raid, Theodor Haubach and 
Adolf Reichwein. Of all four we may read in this book. The 
Kreisau Circle was to be deeply divided over the question of 
Hitler's assassination, which von Moltke could never accept as 
justifiable, but more than any other group they looked forward to 
the future and the death of nearly all of them was an irreparable 
loss to Germany after the war. 

In May 1938, Hitler announced to his generals his decision to 
crush Czechoslovakia by the early autumn. They protested at 
what seemed to them to be a militarily indefensible policy. 
Hitler rejected their protest and Beck, then Chief of the General 
Staff, resigned. During the summer the first steps were taken in 
bringing together the various groups opposing Hitler and the 
association began between Beck and Goerdeler, which was to 
last until the final disaster six years later. A plan was evolved, 
largely under the direction of Oster, to seize Hitler as soon as he 
had ordered a war with Czechoslovakia and bring hityi to trial 
It was supported by General Haider, who had succeeded Beck as 
Chief of the General Staff; von Witzleben, then in command of the 
troops near Berlin; the Police-President of Berlin; his second-in- 
command, Graf Fritz-Dietiof von der Schulenburg, and others. 
Whether the complete collapse of the plot, which was never 
attempted at all, was due to the decision of the British and French 
governments to abandon Czechoslovakia is one of the still un- 
solved problems of History. In any case, the intentions of many 
of those involved, like Haider, who now fades out of the picture, 

xvii 



was not so much to eliminate Hitler as to prevent him from start- 
ing a war which in their view would be disastrous for Germany. 
The whole episode, however, made the task of those genuinely 
opposed to the Nazis far more difficult in the future, since Hitler's 
position in Germany was immeasurably stronger after the allied 
surrender at Munich. 

For the next four years, though numerous plans were evolved, 
the chances of a successful coup against Hitler were small, owing 
to his extraordinary series of successes. But during these years the 
various strands in the Resistance were slowly wound together. 
Already among those who had been involved in the planning of 
the utterly abortive plot before Munich were several in the group 
to which the Bonhoeffers belonged. They now served in posts 
which brought them into doser touch with the military leaders. 
Von Dohnanyi and Otto Kiep, another member, joined the Intel- 
ligence at the beginning of the war and served under Oster, and 
Yorck von Wartenburg was on the staff of von Witzleben. Nothing 
could be done, however, without the Army. There was a moment, 
after Hitler had announced his intention, on the successful con- 
clusion of the Polish campaign, at once to attack in the West, 
when the Generals, led again by Haider, came near to forestalling 
what they expected to be a disastrous campaign, in the same 
way as they had planned the year before. But the Generals 
fumbled and Hitler changed his mind. 

It is impossible to say when the opponents of Nazism came to 
the conclusion that the only solution was to assassinate Hitler. 
Beck and Goerdeler only came slowly to accept it; many of the 
Kreisau Circle, and von Moltke in particular, were never able to 
do so. In August 1941, however, a definite plan to kill Hitler, 
when he visited the Headquarters of General Bock in Russia, was 
formed by General von Tresckow, who was on Bock's staff, and 
von Schlabrendorff, his A.D.C. But Hitler was far too well 
guarded for it to be carried out. This was only the first of his 
escapes from assassination, each one more astonishing than the 
last. 

The Kreisau Circle, as has been shown, combined persons of 
very diverse political views. The association of this group with 
those which had already accepted the leadership of Beck and 
Goerdeler made something much more like a Resistance Move- 
ment January 1943, with the end of the battle of Stalingrad, 
marked the turn of the tide in the war. On 22 January von Hassell 
wrote in his Diary: 'If the Generals had it in mind to withhold 
xviii 



their intervention until it was absolutely clear that the corporal is 
leading us into disaster, they have had their dream fulfilled.* But 
most of the generals were only ready to act when Hitler was 
actually dead, and all the plots to assassinate him were abortive. 
The members of the movement have sometimes been charged as 
incompetent amateurs for their run of ill-success. That they were 
amateurs is indeed true. Men like von Schlabrendorff, who once 
succeeded in introducing two delayed action bombs, in a case of 
brandy, on to Hitler's aeroplane they failed to explode were 
not professional assassins, but honourable men forced to under- 
take assassination after deep searchings of heart. The profes- 
sionals were on the other side. 

It cannot be said that all those in the conspiracy were even 
reasonably careful. Goerdeler, in particular, talked a great deal 
too much. It is, in fact, suiprising that the Gestapo did not find out 
more than it did. In course of time, however, a certain amount 
inevitably was discovered. In April 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer 
and von Dohnanyi were arrested and Canaris was forced to dis- 
miss Oster from active employment. In January 1944, the Gestapo 
seized von Moltke and Otto Kiep. The latter had belonged to a 
group sometimes known as the Solf Circle. Under the inspiration 
of Frau Solf, the widow of one of the greatest diplomats of the 
Weimar Republic and a firm opponent of the Nazis, this group 
of people had done much to assist those sought by the Gestapo to 
escape from the country. Among its members was Elizabeth von 
Thadden, the headmistress of a well-known school for girls, 
another of the victims of the Nazis who are to be found in this 
book. A Gestapo spy attended a meeting at her house. Later, all 
those who had been present were arrested, and also von Moltke, 
who had been a friend of Otto Kiep. Elizabeth von Thadden had 
actually nothing to do with the great conspiracy; she was, in fact, 
quite unaware of it. 

At this stage the most remarkable figure in the whole move- 
ment, Glaus Schenck Graf von Stauffenberg, took over the initiative 
in organising the conspiracy. The fact that he actually carried out 
himself the final attempt on Hitler's life may give a false impression 
of his r6Ie and of his personality. It was indeed typical of him to 
undertake himself the most dangerous task of all. But he was also 
a very fine organiser and, what is more, a young man with the 
makings of a great statesman. Very severely wounded in North 
Africa in 1942, he was later appointed to be Chief of Staff to 
General Olbricht, who was by now a leading member of the con- 

xk 



spiracy. The cousin of Yorck von Wartenburg, he became in- 
terested in the Kreisau Circle. Under his inspiration Beck agreed 
to the inclusion of the socialist leaders, Leber and Leuschner, in 
the future government of Germany. Later, Adolf Reichwein 
arranged a meeting at which Leber met some of the Communist 
leaders. The activities of the Communists against the Nazis cannot 
be ignored. Their actions have been quite unconnected with 
those of whom we have been speaking and they were, as was to 
be expected, directly in the service of Russia. Leber considered 
it important to find out how they would react if Hitler were 
assassinated. It was a tragedy that on this occasion one of those 
present was a spy, and that, as a result, both Leber and Reichwein 
were arrested. 

After all these arrests it was decided that the plot must go 
forward, whether Hitler was successfully assassinated or not. The 
first move in the plan was to use those army officers who were in 
sympathy with the movement to set in motion troops who would 
seize Berlin and contain die Nazi SS there. As the Army was half 
expecting a rising of the SS against itself, it was thought that the 
troops would be ready to move without too great suspicion. As 
soon as possible more troops would be brought in from more 
distant commands to finish off the SS in Berlin. It was hoped that, 
once Hitler had been assassinated, the leaders of the Army would 
support the coup and accept the authority of Beck as head of the 
State and of von Witzleben as Commander-in-Chief. Von 
Stauffenberg, who had recently been appointed Chief of Staff to 
General Fromm, the Commander of the Home Army, was due to 
represent him at a conference at Hitler's Headquarters in East 
Prussia, the so-called Wolfschanze or Wolfs Lair, and was to 
carry out the assassination. Much was seen to depend on Fromm 
himself, who was well aware of much that was going on under his 
nose but had not committed himself. If, on hearing that Hitler 
was dead, he refused to join in the coup, he would be supplanted 
by General Hoepner. 

Von Stauffenberg flew to the Wolfschanze on the morning of 
20 July with Werner, brother of Hans-Bernd von Haeften. He 
entered the Conference Room, a large wooden hut, where General 
Heusinger, Deputy Chief of die General Staff, was explaining to 
Hitler the situation on the Eastern front. Then he placed under 
the table, on which were spread the maps needed for the meet- 
ing, his brief-case, in which was a bomb timed to go off in a few 
minutes, and left the room, ostensibly to make a telephone call. 
xx 



He waited outside the hut until he saw the devastating results of 
the explosion, which took place at ten minutes to one o'clock. 
Then, fully satisfied with the result, von Stauffenberg and Werner 
von Haeften entered a waiting car, drove to the airport and 
returned at once to Berlin, which they reached about two and a 
half hours later. 

But Hitler had not been killed or even seriously injured. He 
had been saved by the massive table under which the bomb had 
been placed. What is more, the general in charge of the com- 
munications at Headquarters, who was himself in the plot, failed 
to disrupt the telephone exchange and to inform those in Berlin 
of what had happened. 

In Berlin, the members of the conspiracy met at the War 
Ministry and waited for news from Hitler's Headquarters. There 
was nothing but an ominous silence. Soon after half past three, 
however, Werner von Haeften rang up from the airport of Berlin 
and told them that the attempt had been successful. Von 
Stauffenberg and he went straight to join the others at the War 
Ministry; orders were despatched at once by telephone to the 
troops near Berlin and the initial moves of the coup were carried 
out. General Fromm, however, insisted on telephoning to the 
Wolfschanze, from which he was told that Hitler had only been 
slightly injured. The conspirators then seized him and those other 
officers at the Ministry who refused to accept the authority of 
von Witzleben as Commander-in-Chief . But already the plot was 
going awry. From the Wolfschanze, Field Marshal Keitel, the 
Chief of the Supreme Command, was ordering German armies 
spread all over Europe to disregard all orders unless they came 
from Himmler or himself. An astonishing battle of telephone calls 
was waged, von Stauffenberg from the War Ministry insisting in 
his turn that the Army Commanders were only to obey orders 
from von Witzleben or Hoepner. In Paris, the SS were actually 
seized and disarmed. At six in the evening an announcement over 
the wireless informed the German people that Hitler was alive. 

The coup could now hardly succeed. The end came when Major 
Remer, an officer commanding one of the regiments which had 
been ordered to Berlin as part of the plot, saw Goebbels, who 
arranged for him to speak to Hitler direct. He was ordered to 
seize the War Ministry. Before he did so, however, Fromm and 
the other officers there, who had been arrested, succeeded in 
escaping and turned the tables on their captors. Beck was allowed 
to commit suicide. Four of the conspirators, among them Glaus 



Schenck von Stauffenberg and Werner von Haeften, were shot at 
once in the courtyard of the Ministry, for Fromm wished to silence 
all those who could tell of his own hesitations and his doubtful 
loyalty to Hitler. But before he could organise the execution of 
the rest, Gestapo officials arrived and arrested them. Among those 
of whom we read in this book were Yorck von Wartenburg, Fritz- 
Dietiof von Schulenburg, Hans Bernd von Haeften, Berthold von 
Stauffenberg and Ulrich Wilhelm Schwerin von Schwanenfeld. 
At midnight Hitler spoke to the German people and all was over, 
except the hunting down of the members of the Resistance, the 
interrogations, the torturings, the trials before the People's 
Court under the Presidency of Freisler and the executions of 
some thousands implicated in the conspiracy. 

After the end of the war I worked for two and a half years in 
Germany and I was left with one very strong impression, that 
thousands of men and women in that country during the period 
of Nazi rule had found themselves faced with what seemed to be 
an impossible dilemma. They did not approve of the regime; 
many felt utterly ashamed of it. But what were they to do? 
Resistance seemed quite futile, and what would happen to their 
wives or husbands, their parents or children, if they made their 
protest? Most men and women are not strong enough to solve 
such a dilemma, and certainly someone who has not had to live in 
a totalitarian country has no right to condemn them. In Germany 
I had at one time to work with four Land Ministers of Education: 
three of them had been in concentration camps (two were 
Socialists and one had been a Deputy of the Catholic Centre 
Party); the fourth, who had been a Headmaster, was dismissed 
from his post the moment the Nazis gained power. We used to 
meet regularly to discuss our common problems, and I never met 
them without wondering whether I could have shown the courage 
they had shown. It is a sign of the decadence of a civilisation when 
ordinary men and women must expect to face an impossible 
dilemma. But those whose deaths are recorded in this book and 
the photographs of each one of them bring them very near to us 
were most of them not very remarkable people and they solved 
the dilemma. 

In this lies their importance for the future, and not only the 
future of Germany. We should not forget that all those in 
Germany today who believe in freedom, the claims of conscience 
and the sacredness of truth, carry with them always the burden 
xxii 



of a terrible memory; the memory of a complete defeat when the 
Nazis gained power. This is the most serious of all the weaknesses 
in Germany today. Something, I believe, can be done if they can 
be convinced that there are those in other countries who are 
ready to help them. But the only thing that can really lighten the 
burden is the memory that there were those who were not 
defeated. 

It is not enough for us to say that all this happened in another 
country and could not happen here. We may indeed believe that 
it could not, but that is irrelevant. For, if there is no condonation 
of the Germans in suggesting that they did not really know what 
was happening, there is none for us either. The Nazis, when 
they cynically avowed their ends and their means, spoke across 
the frontiers. We knew quite well what was meant by the murders 
of 30 June 1934. We read at the time of the persecution of the 
Jews and quite enough about the concentration camps to know 
what they stood for. And yet, until war began, how pitifully little 
we did to let those who resisted the Nazis in Germany feel that 
they had even sympathisers in this country. 

Not long after the end of the war the Protestant Church in 
Germany said in a famous declaration that the guilt for the 
crimes of the Nazis lay with the whole German people. It was a 
courageous statement and I know that it found an echo in the 
minds of many in Germany. But the concept of national guilt is 
one to which it is difficult to give any meaning. Guilt can only 
be purged by sacrifice, and, by the mercy of God, provided that 
men's hearts are touched, by vicarious sacrifice. That is the 
historic rdle of martyrs. It was the r61e of the sixty-four men and 
women representatives, let it not be forgotten, of thousands of 
others whose stand for conscience is related in this book. 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer had said that the resistance to the Nazis must 
be 'an act of repentance*. 

I remember meeting the author one evening in December 1948, 
in Berlin, during the blockade. Frau Leber had been addressing 
an election meeting in what must have been one of the strangest 
elections that ever took place. They were held, of course, only in 
West Berlin. Which party won did not seem very important. What 
mattered was that free elections were being carried out in a 
beleaguered city in the middle of the Soviet Zone erf Germany. I 
remember that I said that in all elections it became clear long 
before what were the dominant issues and I asked her which 
they were in this one. There is only one issue,' she replied, 'and 

xxiii 



it is the old question : Are you, or are you not, against the con- 
centration camp? We should not forget that in Eastern and 
Central Europe there are thousands today who face the same 
dilemma as did the men and women in this book, and that there 
are those who are making the same answer. For these men and 
women, who raised the Revolt for Conscience against the Nazis, 
are not yet merely figures in a page of history. They fell in the 
struggle against the totalitarian state which still continues, and it 
will be long before the cause for which they died will have been 
won. 



xxiv 



Preface to the Original German Edition 

I FIR ST thought of writing this book many years ago when I saw 
some photographs taken in the People's Court, apparently by 
order of the highest Gestapo authorities, during the trials which 
foUowed the attempt on Hitler's life on 20 July 1944. At the time, 
neither the general public nor the families of those concerned 
knew of their existence, but after the final collapse of Germany in 
1945 they were made available to me. 

Even at first glance I felt that these photographs explained 
more powerfully than any words the realities of life under a 
modern totalitarian dictatorship. Here is the individual going out 
to meet his fate: he emerges from the countless mass of Nazi 
victims, known and unknown, to give his own personal testimony. 
We are confronted by his courage, his suffering and his spiritual 
strength. He commands our attention and asks whether we under- 
stand, or whether we want to evade the real issue. 

Since then I have given much thought to the question of finding 
the right framework for these documents of recent German his- 
tory. I wanted to present them in a manner which would make 
more generally understood the individual need to protest against 
tyranny, and I felt that the strength of the spirit that withstood all 
the grisly methods of the totalitarian state should stand out as the 
connecting link in the story of resistance and endurance. 

There were men and women, young and old, of all classes and 
from all parts of the country, who could not and would not come 
to terms with injustice, and sooner or later they resisted. Resent- 
ment and rebellion brought together people of every kind and 
drove them to action, and in the end their outraged consciences 
found a common outlet on 20 July 1944. This book, published 
ten years later, is dedicated to their memory. 

After much thought I decided to present a more general picture 
and for this purpose to collect other stories. But difficulties soon 
arose. Circumstances made it hard to get hold of material from 
the Eastern Zone of Germany; relatives and friends had 
either died or were difficult to contact; photographs and docu- 
ments had been lost in the confusion of the immediate post-war 
years. As a result many personal stories have never come to light 
For all that, the most difficult task was to make a selection from 
the wealth of material which was available without implying that 

xxv 



the selected cases were of greater significance than the rest This 
book does not claim to tell the complete story, but simply to 
convey in the stories of the life and death of sixty-four people the 
motives and manner of resistance. The task of finding the right 
framework for further studies to fill in the gaps which a book of 
this kind must inevitably leave, will be well worth while. 

But an ambitious task is absorbing, and one is almost sad when 
even a part of it is finished. That this book appears at all is due to 
the help and encouragement of the relations and friends of the 
men and women whose stories it tells, whom we in Germany 
have lost and whom we miss so much today, and it therefore 
incorporates many of the thoughts and views of the people who 
were closest to them. 

Human beings, seeking, hoping, straying, struggling, suffering 
that is what they were. In them, as in each of us all, conflicting 
forces wrestled with one another. They stood the test, for their 
conscience was strong enough in the hour of decision. By some 
unexpected stroke of fate any one of us might find himself in a 
similar position, and we hardly dare to say how we should con- 
duct ourselves; and all the less so in face of the complicated 
political and social situation of today, which might so easily 
present us with desperately difficult decisions. 

Perhaps we might react the right way, perhaps not. But the 
essential is that we should continually remind ourselves of what 
is right and therefore of what our own decision ought to be. For 
there is one fact we should never forget : it is the very foundation 
of our spiritual and intellectual life that the individual, whenever 
the need arises, should be ready to come forward and to answer 
for the rights, the lives and the souls of his fellow human beings. 



ANNEDORE LEBER. 



xxvi 



i YOUTH 

GERMAN YOUTH, the men and women who grew up after 
the 1914-1918 war, provided much of the enthusiasm and 
support which brought Hitler to power. Many of them first 
became politically conscious in the days of the Weimar 
Republic. This was a period when good intentions and great 
efforts at reconstruction, often unappreciated, failed to bring 
about economic stability and failed also to give young people 
a purpose in life or a loyalty to democratic society. Strong 
parties of both Right and Left attacked the foundations of 
the state. During the economic crisis of 1929-30 subversive 
activities increased alarmingly and inflation was let loose, 
working men brought home their wages in suitcases and 
university students queued up for the dole with millions of 
unemployed. The ground was well prepared for unscrupulous 
adventurers; and when the adventurers came, under the 
banner of a corrupted nationalism, it was above all the young 
who followed them into the darkest period of German history. 
These same men and women, and others who grew up 
later, also had to bear a very heavy share of the misery meted 
out by National Socialism. They had to kill for it and die for 
it and at the end even children, boys of 15 or 16, were put 
into uniform and sent out to stand between the Fiihrer and 
his henchmen and the encircling armies, to delay by a few 
weeks or days or hours the inevitable retribution. But the 
young had to suffer far more than this : they grew up in an 
atmosphere of authority, fear, distortion, propaganda and 
hysteria; they were fed with false history and false ideology, 
and confused by callous invocation of freedom, patriotism 
and social justice; they were taught to despise individuality 
and to glory in the corporate bleating of the totalitarian state. 
Many of them saw through the facade, some sooner and some 
very much later; but whenever it was that disillusionment 
came, the whole edifice of habit and loyalty crashed; they 
were left with no faith, no background, no purpose, no con- 
fidence and very little knowledge of the outside world, other 
than a slow realisation that it looked with disfavour on all 
that had been done in their name. Those of them who sur- 
vived the war had to start again among the ruins, to live 

1 



down twelve years of Nazi tyranny, and some sought to keep 
alive the memory of those of their contemporaries who died 
in the struggle against it. 

For many of them had resisted and many had been pre- 
pared to die. In 1933 there was still an organised opposition, 
and the young people in the Labour Movement, in the 
greatly reduced ranks of the liberal groups, in the Reichs- 
banner (the militant socialist organisation), and in many 
denominational and other youth and sports organisations, all 
played their part in the genuine, if inadequate, efforts to 
ward off disaster. But the Nazis made it clear that they would 
not tolerate independent youth movements. Sons followed 
their fathers into prison, even young girls were not spared 
the brutalities of the SA and the tortures of the Gestapo : the 
aim was to line up the young in one state-controlled youth 
organisation the Hitler Youth and to use it as an instru- 
ment of power. A bitter fight was waged against the few 
remaining independent organisations until they were finally 
brought to heel. But even the Nazis, though they might 
destroy the organisations themselves, could not altogether 
obliterate the spirit of opposition among the young, and the 
spirit of opposition grew. 

As in every sphere, the motives and the manner of resist- 
ance varied widely. Some opposed from the beginning, others 
began as enthusiastic Nazis. Many were indifferent, and were 
more concerned with their next examination or with plans 
for their summer holiday than with the demerits of a political 
regime which, for the moment, enjoyed obvious success; 
and were stung to awareness by some particular event or 
personal experience a relation who fell foul of the authori- 
ties, a Jewish friend who was in trouble, or a soldier with 
long hours of boredom during a bitter winter on the eastern 
front in which to think. Many came up against the compul- 
sory measures imposed upon them, and took refuge in home 
life. Tradition often proved stronger than the Nazis would 
have wished, and many parents were able to foster in their 
children a basically critical attitude, supported sometimes 
by religious faith or by humanitarian feeling. The liberal 
ideas of the earlier youth movements were kept alive, and as 
time went on and those who deviated from the Nazi pattern 
were branded as liberalistic' or 'individualistic', the struggle 
against standardisation acquired a new significance. 
2 



Experiences at the front led many young men to reflect, or 
to seek refuge in basic impulses of love, loyalty, comradeship 
and mutual trust. Letters from German Students Killed in 
Action, 1939-1945 1 gives many examples. The young men no 
longer knew what they were fighting for; liberty had become 
a legendary concept; some simply believed they must defend 
their country, others that the essential task was to be rid of 
the National Socialists; but they were not traitors, and cer- 
tainly not cowards, merely young and bewildered and 
disillusioned, and trying to follow their consciences. 

The world took notice when a year before the attempt of 
20 July 1944 against Hitler s life the Munich students, the 
Scholls and their friends, came out in open defiance of the 
Nazis, knowing quite well that they would pay with their 
lives and that they had no prospect of tangible success. A 
friend wrote of Willy Graf, who was arrested just after the 
Scholls and had to wait seven months in the death cell before 
his execution : 'At the age of sixteen he first met members 
of the Jungenschaft and belonged to this group up to his 
death. After the ban on all youth organisations (save those 
sponsored by the Nazis), the Jungenschaft continued in being 
and rejected all enticements from the National Socialists. 
Most of his friends shared his fate, they were killed either in 
action or in the struggle against Hitler.* 

Hope was never quite abandoned; as late as January 1945 
a young member of an illegal group in Berlin still found it 
possible to be optimistic, and wrote in a most moving 
memorandum : 'Let's make a new start. Really. Let's plough 
up the earth once more so that we are ready to sow good new 
seed. And it will happen, oh, it will I ' 



gefattener deutscher Studenten 1989-1945. Rainer 
WunderTich Verlag, Tubingen and Stuttgart. 

3 



ANTON SCHMAUS 

19 April 1910 January 1934 

ANTON SCHMAUS was one of five children and the second 
son of Johannes Schmaus, a trade-union official and a member 
of the Reichsbanner in Berlin-Kopenick. He served his 
apprenticeship as a carpenter and attended evening classes 
at a technical school for builders. He also joined the Socialist 
Workers' Youth Organisation and kter the German Socialist 
Party, and in 1931 became a member of the Reichsbanner 
Youth Organisation. There he was much respected but was 
unable, for lack of time, to play any very active part. 

The following story was told by Willy Urban and Paul 
Hasche, friends and neighbours of the Schmaus family : 

In February 1933 the district of Kopenick was thrown into 
a state of extreme alarm : SA 1 gangs, in laundry vans, would 
pull up at the houses of people known to oppose the Nazis 
and cart them off to the various SA headquarters, and no-one 
knew if he would return safe and sound from these 
ordeals. 

'On 21 June the terror reached a climax, when the 
Kopenick SA seized more than 200 people during the day. 
On his return in the evening Anton Schmaus was warned at 
the station that the SA had been to his home looking for his 
father and himself. The Schmaus family were widely 
respected for their independence of outlook and Anton firmly 
refused to take flight, saying he was "fed up with all this law- 
lessness" and did not intend to spend his time permanently 
in hiding. 

'Anton was already upstairs in bed when the SA forced 
their way into the house late that evening. They kicked his 
mother, who barred their way, and knocked her down. Anton 
was woken by her cries for help and found himself at the top 
of the stairs confronted by the SA. He told them to get out 
of the house, otherwise he would shoot. They took no notice, 
and closed in on him; and so as a last resort he pulled out a 
pistol. According to the police report of 5 July 1933, File No. 
lAdVI, three storm troopers were badly wounded and later 

1 Sturmabtettungen Hitler's Brownshirts. 
4 




died in hospital and a fourth was fatally wounded by a shot 
from one of his companions. 

'Anton Schmaus jumped out of the window and then gave 
himself up to the police. The SA began to search for him and 
demanded of the police that he be handed over to them. The 
police refused, but for his own safety they sent him to Police 

5 



Headquarters in Berlin, guarded by two constables. Suddenly 
the policemen found themselves surrounded by thirty or 
forty storm troopers who clearly intended to seize their 
prisoner. According to the same police report, a shot was 
fired at him out of the crowd. Anton Schmaus was paralysed 
through an injury to the spinal cord, and died in a police 
hospital in January 1934. The day of his death is unknown. 
'On 22 June 1933, the day after the SA raid, the Brown- 
shirts hanged Anton's father, Johannes Schmaus, in his own 
house. There were many other fearful acts of revenge. A few 
days later a number of sacks containing corpses were washed 
up by the river Dahme, near the Grunau ferry. Among those 
which were identified were Johannes Stelling, a former Prime 
Minister of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Paul von Essen, the 
leader of the Reichsbanner and Pokern, a prominent com- 
munist/ 



HELMUTH HUBENER 

8 J 127142 Secret! 

2 H 141/42 

In the Name of 
The German People 

In the criminal proceedings against : 

1. Helmuth Giinther Hiibener, born 8 January 1925, in 
Hamburg, civil servant in the Hamburg Welfare Depart- 
ment, lately resident in Hamburg. 

2. Rudolf Gustav Wobbe, born 11 February 1926, in 
Hamburg, locksmith's apprentice, lately resident in Ham- 
burg. 

3. Karl Heinz Schnibbe, born 5 January 1924, in Ham- 
burg, house-painter, lately resident in Hamburg. 

4. Gerhard Heinrich Jacob Jonni Diiwer, born 1 Novem- 
ber 1924, in Altona, civil servant in the Hamburg Welfare 
Department, lately resident at Hamburg-Altona, all at 
present held in custody 

for plotting high treason 

the Second Chamber of the People's Court, in its proceedings 
on 11 August 1942, in which there took part : 
Presiding Judge: Judge Engert, Vice-President of the 

People's Court; 
Judge Fikeis; 
Brigadefiihrer Heinsius, of the National Socialist Motor 

Corps; 

Herr Bodinus, Magistrate; 

Herr Hartmann, Chairman of the District Court, as repre- 
sentative of the Chief Prosecutor of the Reich; 
Dr Drullmann, State Prosecutor, as an official of the court; 
Herr Wohlke, Clerk of the Court; 
has decreed and passed sentence as follows : 

7 



Hiihcner. for listening to foreign broadcasts and for 
spreading the news so heard: and simultaneously for 
plotting high treason and treacherously supporting the 
enemy, is sentenced to Death and to the loss of civil rights 
for the rest of his life; 

Wobbe, for listening to foreign broadcasts and for 
spreading news so heard, and simultaneously for plotting 
high treason is sentenced to 10 years imprisonment; 

Schnibbe, for listening to foreign broadcasts and for 
spreading news so heard, is sentenced to 5 years' imprison- 
ment; 

and Diiwer, for spreading news from foreign broadcasts 
is sentenced to 4 years 9 imprisonment. 

EXTRACTS FROM THE COURT CASE BOOK 

The defendant Hiibener is now 17 years of age. His father 
is at present employed in the Security Service, his mother is at 
home. 

*He attended an elementary school and moved on to a 
secondary school in 1938. His school leaving report was excel- 
lent. In April 1941 he joined the civil service, executive grade. 
In 1938 he joined the junior section of the Hitler Youth 
Organisation, and later became a member of the Hitler Youth 
proper and was a member until the time of his arrest. Since 
early childhood he has been a member of the "Church of Jesus 
Christ of the Latter-Day Saints". 

4 Since the summer of 1941, Hiibener has spread the contents 
of British news bulletins in leaflets and handbills. . . . All in all 
twenty different propaganda leaflets of this kind, either drafts 
or mimeographed copies, have been confiscated. In addition 
to the British bulletins on the war situation, the handbills con- 
tained insults and insinuations against the Ftihrer and his 
lieutenants and inflammatory attacks on the measures and 
institutions of the National Socialist government; they also 
demanded that the war be ended by the overthrow of the 
Fuhrer. . . . 

'All the defendants have admitted that they were aware of 
the ban on listening to foreign stations and on the spreading of 
foreign news detrimental to the Reich. They have also made 
the following statements : 

'Hubener: Unlike the German news bulletins, British bulletins 
to which he had listened had reported events in a manner 
8 




favourable to England and detrimental to the Reich. But since 
they went into far more detail than the German reports, he 
believed that on most points they were true; and had con- 
sidered it his duty to let other people know about them, so that 
they would also hear the truth and be better informed. . . . 

'Hiibener, whom the witness Mons has called an excellent 
and reliable colleague, has shown in his work at the Central 
Administration an intelligence far exceeding that of the average 



boy of his age ... an impression that is borne out by the fact 
that he reached an educational standard beyond that of the 
Elementary School. Moreover, in his final school examination, 
he submitted a political essay entitled War of the Plutocrats. 
Although this was in the main a compilation, it was hard to 
believe that the author was only 15 or 16 years old; both in 
content and maturity of style this essay appears to be the work 
of someone far older. The same applies to the leaflets which 
Hiibener drafted on the basis of the news broadcasts; no one 
could imagine that their author was only 16 or 17, even if he 
knew that they were composed with the help of notes. Thus 
the defendant had to be punished as an adult person. 
The death sentence was carried out on 27 October, 1942.' 



10 



HILDA MONTE 

31 July 191418 April 1945 

WHEN HILDA MONTE was 15 years old, she was writing 
for Der Funke (The Spark), the Berlin organ of the Socialist 




Ptioto by Atelier Bemei 
11 



International. Three years later, when the Nazis seized 
power in Germany, she was in England. Although as a Jewess 
she had reason enough to worry about her own future, she 
devoted all her strength and her short life to the organisation 
of an international resistance movement against the Nazi 
regime and to the liberation of the German people. Through 
the Socialist International she got in touch with political 
friends in many countries and also, with great skill, in 
Germany. In speeches and in writing she advocated the 
decisive blow against Nazism the removal of Hitler. Under 
the pseudonym of Hilda Monte (her real name was Hilde 
Meisel), she kept her friends in Germany well informed, 
warning them when danger threatened and helping them to 
escape. 

During the war she published in English a short story 
entitled Where Freedom Perished, in which she tried to make 
it clear to other nations that Germans, too, were being 
oppressed by Nazi dictatorship; and about the same time she 
published a book, The Unity of Europe, which reveals her 
understanding of political and economic affairs. 

Even during the war she tried to reach Germany; in 1939 
she got as far as Lisbon, but had to return to England. In 
1944 she managed to make her way to Switzerland, hoping 
to go on to Austria and Germany. In the spring of 1945 she 
was shot dead by an SS patrol when attempting to cross the 
frontier, illegally, on her return to Switzerland. 

Nora Platiel, one of her closest friends, has written of her : 

'Hilda Monte, physically delicate, mentally lively and pre- 
cocious, turned to political journalism at an age when other 
young people are still working for their examinations. Her clear 
mind quickly grasped the salient features of our social struc- 
ture. Though she never completed her formal education, her 
many theses on social economy and political affairs testify to 
her ability. 

'She has left behind her a number of poems. They have no 
great literary merit, and yet are strangely moving. Is it her deep 
community with nature, with the arts, with the world of beauty 
which appeals to us so directly? Or is it the deep sincerity, the 
passion for justice? Perhaps we come closest to Hilda Monte's 
character and to the meaning and value of her poems when we 
take them as expressions of a passionate and restless heart, 
which never yielded to cowardice or inertia/ 
12 



Do Not Speak ot Courage 

Do not speak of courage, 

do not speak of heroes, 
Heroism too; 

1 know there are some heroes 
To whom all praise is due 

But my case was quite different : 

To praise me is absurd. 

Life is sometimes so oppressive, 

So unbearably hard, 

One must be brave to live at all; 

Far braver, than to hear the call 

Of some great cause, to give 

One's life, and be done with it all. 

So, one learns that death may be 

Despised : it's good to learn that truth. 

But they who get as far as this 

Can best give proof 

Of courage, by retreat : by living on 

For years and decades long 

Vistas of living. Do not make a hero 

Of her for whom life was too strong. 

(From Poems by Hans Lehnert, Hilde Meisel. Europaische 
Verlagsanstalt, Hamburg.) 



13 



JONATHAN STARK 

8 July 1926 October 1944 

His parents were Jehovah's Witnesses and gave Jonathan 
a strict religious upbringing. On leaving the elementary 
school he learned lithography at an art school in Ulm, where 
he was regarded as one of the best pupils. On 1 October 
1943, when he was 17, he was ordered to report to the 
National Socialist Labour Service, which he did with a heavy 
heart because he knew that even boys of 16 were being 
taught to use arms. True to his faith, he refused to swear the 
Oath of Allegiance to Hitler, and after three days at a labour 
camp he was arrested by the Gestapo. 

Soon after this his father was likewise arrested, remaining 
in prison until after the end of the war. Jonathan Stark him- 
self was taken to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, 
and there, at the end of October 1944, was hanged. 

Herman Scheffel, who was in the same concentration camp 
and who, as a Jehovah's Witness, was later sentenced to a 
long term of penal servitude in the Soviet-occupied zone, 
told the following story : 

'In the autumn of 1944 I heard that the young brother 
Jonathan Stark had arrived at the camp. He was put in the 
punishment cells in Block 14 and immediately given a special 
uniform. We all knew what these uniforms meant : they were 
death uniforms. When I heard this I tried to get in touch with 
him, which was of course strictly forbidden. But I succeeded, 
and talked to him for over an hour. His companions were 
impressed by his exceptional behaviour, and he was much 
beloved. He was quite calm on that first evening that I was 
with him, though he had no illusions about his fate. He 
remained serene and in control of himself to the end, so much 
so that his behaviour won the admiration even of the SS. He 
was the sensation of the camp and everybody talked about him. 

'One Tuesday afternoon Iris last hour was at hand. We saw 
him once more, from a distance, but were unable to get near 
him. He was standing by the gate, upright and quiet A pro- 
fessional criminal had been ordered to hang him in the presence 
of the camp commandant. His neck was put in the noose. The 
hangman hesitated and the commandant forgot to give the 
14 




order. Suddenly the boy asked : "Why do you hesitate? Bear 
witness for Jehovah and for Gideon!" These were his last 
words/ 

At the time, Jonathan Stark was one of 6,034 Jehovah's 
Witnesses in Germany. Of these, 5,911 were arrested 
between 1933 and 1945. Over 2,000 of them were either 
executed, or died of ill-treatment, hunger, disease or over- 
strain in the course of forced labour. 

15 



SOPHIE SCHOLL 

9 Mav 192122 February 1943 

* * 

SOPHIE SCROLL was born in the small town of Forchtenberg 
(Wurttemberg). She was the daughter of the local mayor, 
and grew up with four brothers and sisters. In 1940 she left 
the secondary school at Ulm and spent two years training as 
a kindergarten teacher. She was then called up by the 
Labour Service and later by the Auxiliary Military Service. 
In May 1942 she began to study biology and philosophy at 
Munich University. She belonged to the resistance group 
known as the '\Vhite Rose', composed of students, artists and 
scientists who called for a clear rejection of Hitler and his 
regime in order as one of their leaflets put it 'to strive for 
the renewal of the mortally wounded German spirit'. 

On 18 February 1943, Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans 
were arrested at the university; they were sentenced to death 
by the People's Court, with Freisler as the presiding judge, 





16 



on 22 February 1943, together with Christoph Probst, a 
friend of Hans. The sentences were carried out a few hours 
later. The nucleus of the group consisted of Professor Kurt 
Huber, Willi Graf and Alexander Schmorell. They too were 
executed. 

'My heart soon gets lost in petty anxieties and forgets that 
death is near. It is quite unprepared, quickly distracted by 
frivolous incidentals, it could easily be taken by surprise when 

17 



the hour comes and miss the one great joy for the sake of little 
pleasures. 

1 realise this but not so my heart. It continues to dream, 
refuses to listen to reason, is lulled into safety by the consoling 
words of irritating warders and fluctuates between joy and 
sorrow. Sorrow is all that is left, paralysis, utter helplessness, 
and a faint hope. 

*My heart clings to these treasures, to the promise of a sweet 
life; tear me away against my will, because I am too weak to 
do it myself. Let me wait till I am miserable and in pain before 
I dream away salvation. 

SOPHIE/ 
* * * 

From Sophie ScholTs letters and entries in her diary : 

9 November 1939. 

'. . . After all, one should have the courage to believe in what 
is good. I do not mean that one should believe in illusions, but 
I mean that one should do only what is true and good and 
take it for granted that other people will do the same, in a way 
one can never do with the intellect alone. (That is to say never 
calculate)/ 

16 May 1940. 

'. . . I hope very much that you will survive this war and this 
era without becoming its slave. We each have our own stan- 
dards of values, but we don't use them enough. Perhaps because 
they are the most exacting standards/ 

13 January 1941. 

'. . . In the train I longed so much to see a face which would 
remind me of my brothers and sisters and friends. Does that 
make sense? Not exactly home-sickness, but awareness of being 
different. Even the young people, and there were lots in the 
train, weren't young any more, they seemed to think the only 
purpose of youth is pleasure. But my family and friends even 
if they were sometimes clumsy or ignorant, were at least full of 
goodwill full of the will to do what is good/ 

July 1942. 

*I want to shout for joy at being so alone, with the wild rough 
wind pouring all over me. I'd like to stand all by myself on a 
raft, upright above the grey river which rushes along so fast 
that the wind cannot touch it. I'd like to shout out that I am 
so gloriously alone. 
18 



The wind tears open the blue sky, out comes the sun and 
kisses me tenderly. I'd like to kiss him back, but my wish is 
forgotten in a moment as the wind grasps me. I feel the won- 
derful firmness of my body, I laugh aloud for the sheer joy of 
finding I can resist the wind. I can feel all my own strength/ 

10 February 1943. 

1 shall probably be called up for labour service next summer. 
I am not entirely unhappy about it, because I still want to 
suffer, to share the suffering of these days (that is putting it too 
strongly; I mean that I want to be affected more directly). You 
will understand, sympathy is often difficult and soon becomes 
hollow if one feels no pain oneself.' 



19 



HEINZ BHLLO 

3 September 192029 June 1944 

'How helpless we human beings are in the face of death. 
What would life be without faith? We should have to despair 
if we expected merely to revert to dust and ashes'. 

Heinz Bello, a 24-year-old Sergeant in the Medical Corps, 
said those words just before his execution by a firing squad 
and his family were told of them by an army chaplain, Herr 
Kreuzberg. This chaplain, who accompanied many young 
soldiers to execution, gives the following account of the 
events of that day : 

'It was 6 a.m. when Heinz Bello was told at the office of the 
Military Remand Prison in Berlin that his petition for mercy 
had been rejected and that the death sentence "would be 
carried out at 8 o'clock this morning by a firing squad". Heinz 
accepted the sentence gravely and calmly. I then went back 
with him to his cell. When we had sat down he said something 
like this : "I suppose it is God's will. Yesterday I was transferred 
to this place from Spandau. Last night I didn't sleep as well as 
usual. The thought struck me that if I should have to die today 
it would be on the day commemorating the death of the martyrs 
Peter and Paul. I will die for a Christian Germany. I want to 
die for the re-unification of the Churches in Germany so that all 
people can live in peace again. My last words shall be : Omnia 
ad majorem Dei gloriam! All for the greater glory of God. . . ." 

In a closed car, I drove with him and the Protestant chap- 
lain and another young soldier to the place of execution. We 
arrived at 7.55 a.m. The other soldier went first with the 
chaplain. When the volley was fired, Heinz said : "Lord, give 
him eternal peace ! " We prayed. Then our time was up. I went 
with him all the way. The sentence was read over again. He 
was asked whether he had any final wish, and said he wanted 
to die as a free man, without a bandage over his eyes and 
without handcuffs. His wish was granted. He stood upright, 
ready for the end. I gave him the blessing once more, and shook 
hands with him. Then he prayed, his lips moving gently, his 
eyes lifted to heaven/ 

Heinz Bello was born in Breslau on 5 September, 1920, and 
was the son of a tax collector. He passed his matriculation in 
20 




Wesel in March 1939, then completed his compulsory period 
with the Labour Service. After the outbreak of war he was 
called up for the Armed Forces. He was later exempted from 
military service to study medicine, and began his studies in 
January 1940 at Munster University, but in October he was 
called up again. He took part in the advance on Moscow, as 
a corporal, and was awarded the Iron Cross (2nd Class) and 

21 



the East Medal. He was later transferred from the front to a 
students' company at home which enabled him to resume his 
medical studies. For his courageous rescue work after an air 
raid on Minister on 10 October 1943, when he received a 
head injury from a bomb splinter, he was awarded the Badge 
for Wounded Soldiers. 

On 18 March 1944, Heinz Bello stood before the Central 
Military Court in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Two so-called 
friends had informed on him. On 20 July, 1943, the day 
before he was due to take his preliminary medical examina- 
tion, he had been detailed for fire-watching at the barracks 
where the students' company was housed. Annoyed by this 
inconsiderate order, he gave vent to his feelings with some 
hard words against militarism, National Socialism and party 
informers. He also pointed to a cross which happened to have 
been left in the building now serving as barracks and said : 
'So long as there is a God in Heaven, there is a limit to what 
can happen on earth/ 

From the time when proceedings against him began, up to 
the time of his trial, Heinz Bello was not actually under lock 
and key. During this interval he turned down offers from 
friends to help him to go to Switzerland, because he did not 
want his family to suffer the consequences; and on the date 
set for the trial, he and his father went to Berlin. The hearing 
began at 1 p.m. but was very soon interrupted by an air-raid 
warning. During the alert, which lasted two hours, his 
solicitor made it quite clear to him that, judging by proceed- 
ings so far, things looked extremely serious, and urged him 
to seize his chance and escape from the unguarded air-raid 
shelter. He again refused to take advantage of such a situa- 
tion. 

At 4 p.m. the trial was resumed and in less than an hour 
the court pronounced sentence as follows : Tor undermining 
morale, Heinz Bello, a Sergeant of the Reserve and Officer- 
Cadet (civilian occupation : medical student) is sentenced to 
death, to dishonour and to loss of civil rights for life/ 

After the sentence had been pronounced, Heinz Bello was 
taken to the military prison in the Lehrter Strasse. It was 
impossible to appeal, so the defence took the only course 
open to them and, on 19 April 1944, filed a petition for mercy 
with the court at the Wehrmacht Headquarters in Berlin- 
Charlottenburg. But on 10 June 1944, on the strength of 
22 



opinions submitted by the leader of the students' movement 
and by the Fiihrers Chancellory, the sentence was con- 
firmed. Heinz Bello was shot on 29 June 1944, on the 
machine-gun ranges in Berlin-Tegel. 



23 



FR1EDRICH KARL KLAUSING 

24 May 19208 August 1944 

FIUEDRICII KARL KLAUSING, being a member of the 
Christian Boy Scouts, was automatically transferred to the 
Hitler Youth in 1933. In 1938 he passed his matriculation in 
classics, and after serving six months with the Labour Service 
joined up with the 9th Infantry Regiment, as an officer-cadet, 
in the autumn of 1938. He took part in the Polish and French 
campaigns, was awarded the Iron Cross (1st Class) and 
received his commission. He was seriously wounded at the 
battle of Stalingrad, when he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant; 
and when he was again badly wounded in Russia in 1943, he 
was transferred to G.H.Q. for home service. 

This young officer is a true representative of a whole 
generation who grew up under the influence, and indeed in 
the spirit of National Socialism; but each of whom, sooner or 
later, was brought by his own thinking or experience to the 
point where he was forced to listen to the voice of conscience, 
and to find his own answer. For Klausing, the conflict began 
at the front, when he began to ask himself what sense there 
was in the war; it deepened when he was sent on home 
service, after being wounded. Then he met a friend from his 
regiment, an older man, Fritz von der Schulenburg, who 
opened his eyes and won him over to the cause of the resist- 
ance group. Klausing then cast aside the tarnished ideals of 
his youth, betrayed as they were by criminal leaders, and 
became Adjutant to Stauffenberg, whom he admired with all 
the enthusiasm of youth but also as time went on with a more 
mature political outlook. 

There now began a life of self-denial and conspiracy which 
led by way of many setbacks and long waiting to 20 July. 
Although ill himself, Klausing was in the War Office in the 
Bendlerstrasse at mid-day, ready to cany out his appointed 
task, which was to keep other key members of the plot, in 
Potsdam, in touch with events. He witnessed the arrest and 
execution by a firing squad of the officers nearest to Stauffen- 
berg, but himself escaped late at night. He took refuge in the 
ZeMendorf house of Vera Gaupp, a doctor, as he had often 
24 




Photograph taken in ike People* t Cour* 

done in the past weeks. He spent the next few hours with 
Wolfgang Gaupp, one of the conspirators, trying to decide 
what was the right thing to do. Finally he chose neither 
suicide nor flight, but gave himself up to the authorities the 
next morning. He was sentenced to death by the People's 
Court, and died with some of his friends on 8 August, 1944. 
Vera Gaupp has written the following account, based on 
her brother's story of Klausing during the last few hours 
before his arrest. 

'He came to my house at midnight, white and distraught. 

25 



My brother was there too. Klausing laid his pistol on the table. 
He said that he would now have to shoot himself, since all was 
lost and he must share the fate of his friends. The discussion 
lasted half the night, and ranged over the alternatives of flight, 
suicide or a common death with his friends. He soon gave up 
the idea of suicide, because he didn't want to endanger the 
rest of us; also, on reflection, he decided it would be no real 
solution, but merely an evasion. Flight he regarded as cowardly, 
and thought this too might lead to trouble for those who would 
wish to help him. And so in the end there seemed to be only 
one thing to do : openly to declare himself for Stauffenberg and 
his venture, and return to the Bendlerstrasse. Wolfgang was 
unable to convince him of the senselessness of this sacrifice, 
which could no longer serve the cause. The deciding factor 
in Klausing*s decision was his loyalty to his friends, for which 
his life seemed to him to be the appropriate price. When he 
set off at eight o'clock the next morning to give himself up 
he was calm, sure and fearless. He knew what he was doing.' 



26 



MICHAEL KITZELMANN 

29 January 191612 June 1942 

MICHAEL KITZELMAXX was the son of a fanner in the 
Allgiiu; he went to the elementary school and to a boys' school 
in Dillingen. He served his term with the Labour Service, 
and then studied for three terms at St. Stephan's Theological 
School, in Augsburg; after that he joined the 20th Infantry 
Regiment in Lindau to complete his compulsory military 
service. He had no love of soldiering and as early as 9 January 
1938, he wrote to a friend: 'So for two years I must submit 
to this horrible yoke of ridiculous and dreary military drill, 
which I find quite soul-destroying after only a few weeks/ 
Before his two years were up, the war began. Michael took 
part in the Polish campaign as a private soldier and wrote to 
a friend who lived near him at home : 'Never will I tell any- 
body what I have seen and experienced here/ He later went 
on a course for non-commissioned officers in Doberitz, got 
his commission during the French campaign in 1940, and 
was awarded the Iron Cross (2nd Class). 

During the Russian campaign, Michael Kitzelmann was a 
company commander in the 199th Infantry Regiment. On 
3 April 1942, he was sentenced to death by a Court Martial 
for what was called 'undermining the German Army*. The 
sentence was carried out by a firing squad in Orel on il June 
1942. Details of the Court Martial proceedings are not 
known. But there was no concealing Michael Kitzelmann's 
bitter criticism of the government, which found expression 
in, for instance, such remarks as : If these criminals should 
win, then I would have no wish to live any longer/ 

The following are extracts from the diary which he wrote 
while he was in prison : 

'On 11 April 1942, I walked into the military prison of the 
fortress of Orel. The fortress, a huge squat building, distem- 
pered pink, with massive round turrets at each corner, lies to 
the north of the town on the steep banks of the river Oka. 
There is a dark stone passage on the upper floor where the air 
is dank and chill; and here I was handed over to the prison 
guards. 

'My cell is in the north-east turret and is about 14 feet wide 

27 



and die same height. It has a wooden floor and a vaulted brick 
ceiling. To the west an arched window pierces the wall, which 
is over three feet thick, and across die window there are strong 
iron bars, let into the wall. In the evening and then only, a few 
golden sunrays briefly penetrate to my dreary solitude. A 
massive oak door, reinforced by heavy iron-work, shuts out the 
world/ 

'Darkness and terror paralyse my being. The stillness is 
unbearable. Helpless and abandoned I am left to myself, alone, 
sentenced to death. . .! 

'Now I know the full fury of these Military Laws. Overnight 
I was branded as a criminal just for making a few derogatory 
remarks about the government. And for that apparently I must 
lose my life, my honour, my friends and my place in human 
society. How could all this happen? I had a good enough 
reputation up to now, and so far as I know I was regarded as a 
decent man with a normal sense of duty. What are right and 
justice in this world? Haven't I served my country honourably 
for four years? I was at the front for two years, took part in 
three campaigns and proved my loyalty often enough. Is this 
the thanks I get from my country? 

'Apart from all that I am beginning to be afraid for my 
family at home. Letters have been taken from my trunk, and 
others from the post, and confiscated by the Court, letters from 
my father and mother and from friends. What will happen to 
them? Will the law get on to them too? That would be terrible. 
But I suppose there is nothing to be done and . . . events must 
take their course. I am so much afraid: my fears follow me 
day and night like horrifying ghosts, and all the time this awful 
loneliness, this claustrophobia, this oppressive silence. For 
hours on end I pace up and down my cell, just to hear my own 
footsteps. I light a fire in the stove just to hear it's crackling. I 
pray aloud to hear my own voice; and I call upon Heaven, 
asking God to help me in my agony. . . ." 

'Home-sickness grips my heart, and that is the worst of all 
my troubles. My beloved, beautiful home seems so far away. I 
suppose I shall never see it again : my parents* house with its 
garden in front, the fruit trees, the green meadows and the 
rustling woods, the waterfall, the quiet little church in the 
Argental valley, the hills on the other side. A paradise in this 
world of woe 

'But what fearful suffering has my clumsiness brought on 
my beloved mother and father, on my brothers and sisters, my 
relations and friends? To have to hurt love itself: it is then, 
surely, that the human heart suffers its greatest pain. 
28 




Photo by Atelier Sauler 



'Who would blame me for these earthly ties, this agony, this 
burning home-sickness? Was not Christ Himself, the Son of 
God, overcome on the Mount of Olives at the prospect of His 
sacrifice for mankind? Even He suffered when saying farewell 
to those He loved. He let them wait at the gate leading into 
the garden, He asked His friends to pray for Him, three times 
He interrupted His prayers to go back to them, for He did not 

29 



want to be alone. He longed for the sympathy of His friends. 

'I pray to Jesus the Crucified, who has led the way through 
the most bitter pain. And He answers me : "If you will be My 
disciple, take up your cross and follow me!" 

'But I appeal to Him : "Lord, I am still so young, too young 
for such a heavy cross; I have not lived my life, aU my hopes, 
plans and aims are unfulfilled." And he says : "Behold, I too 
was young, I had yet to live my life, and as a young man I 
carried the cross and sacrificed my young life." 

'Again my soul complains : "Behold my bitter home-sickness, 
the sufferings of my family. Let me return to life and let me 
not hurt their love." 

'But Jesus replies : "If you cannot leave your belongings and 
all your earthly love, you cannot be my disciple. Follow me!" 

'Again my soul rebels : "O Lord, the burden is too heavy; 
relieve me of this terrible yoke; shorten my sufferings and dry 
my tears!" 

'Lovingly He speaks : "My son, be brave and do not despair! 
I have suffered so greatly for humanity, and for you too; I have 
opened Heaven for you. And I shall remain with you until the 
end." 

1 answer my Saviour : "Thank you a thousand times for your 
endless love, my Redeemer! I shall be your disciple and I will 
carry your cross after you. So take me by the hand and lead me 
to my blessed end in all eternity." 

The morning is the worst. Every time I wake up, I am 
almost crushed by the horror of my fate. Fear of death fills my 
heart; how many more times shall I be able to He down in my 
cell and rest? Shall I still be alive tomorrow? I feel like a 
drowning man. Desperately I look for some support. I cling to 
the Cross of the Saviour and implore Him to give me comfort 
and strength. I start my prayers in the morning and go on 
praying until my heart is calm again/ 

'24 May, Whitsunday. Whitsuntide in prison and in the 
shadow of death! The storms in my soul are calmer. The 
Whitsuntide sun, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Saviour, 
lightens even my desperate solitude. And while I rejoice in the 
return of the Holy Ghost, in my solitary cell, I am reminded of 
the splendour of my own countryside at this time of the year. 
It is as if I were standing at home with the choir in the church, 
and I sing once more the old, immortal hymn Veni Creator 
Spiritus. I know that I am near to God. Human misery retreats, 
even death loses its horror * 

*Now I live the life of a hermit. My day's work consists of 
praying, reading the Bible, occasionally scribbling something 
in my diary or writing letters. It is very painful, this separation 
30 



from life, from the past, from all fond hopes and plans and 
particularly from my nearest and dearest. It is terribly hard to 
submit wholly to God's will in such agonising circumstances : 
but the only attainable comfort is to hold out to the end despite 
all suffering. . . / 

'On 11 June 1942, at 5 p.m., I was told that my petition for 
mercy had been rejected and that the sentence would be 
carried out on 12 June 1942 at S a.m. Lord, Thy will be done. 
In the evening I knew great joy. Dear, good Pastor Schmitter 
has come back and wants to stay with me during my last hours 
on earth. He was here till after midnight. I told him my final 
wishes, asked him to give my love to my people at home and 
talked over with him what would happen at the end. He has 
promised to return punctually at 6 a.m. Then I will confess 
once more, for my whole life. We shall celebrate Nfass and take 
Communion together. . . . 

'God has granted me great joy, for the hour of my death is a 
merciful one/ 



31 



2 LEARNING 

THE National Socialists were not content with political 
mastery. They demanded also that their doctrines and 
ideologies should be accepted by each and even- individual 
and that the state should order the Weltanschauung the 
whole attitude of all the people; to this end they embarked 
on a ruthless course of suppression and annihilation. 

Many of their methods are well-known : the police state, 
the censorship, the control of education and the propaganda 
machine. When Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda and a 
central Ministry of Education (education was normally the 
concern of each Land} were set up, the intention was all too 
clear. Among the earliest measures taken by the new govern- 
ment were the 'cleansing' of the universities and schools, the 
banning of dissident newspapers and periodicals, the suppres- 
sion of writers whose opinions did not conform and the 
barbaric public burning of books. The inquisition of the mind 
reached a climax on 10 May 1933, ten weeks after the Reich- 
stag fire and while the atmosphere of political terror still 
reigned, when huge bonfires raged in the Gendarmmarkt in 
Berlin and in many other public squares. Many famous books 
by living authors who had added to Germany's fame as a 
literary and scientific nation, and practically all European 
literature since Voltaire which might possibly stimulate the 
German reader to reflect on the spirit of the new regime, 
belonged to the Schmutz-imd-Schiindliteratiir which was 
sent up in flames by order of Goebbels. 

Hundreds of writers and scientists had to leave the country 
of their birth. Many lost their lives. Others were frustrated 
by the ban on speech and publication, or driven to other and 
unaccustomed occupations; if, that is, they were spared the 
concentration camp, or death. Emigration, actual or spiritual, 
became the only alternative to subservience. The National 
Socialist state had in its hands all the weapons it needed to 
enforce compliance. 

Anti-Semitism was one of them; it was in fact a corner 
stone of Nazi policy. Economic, social and racial prejudices 
were systematically fostered, built up into a philosophy of 
envy and hate. The amateurish racial theories of Hans F. K. 
32 



Giinther and Alfred Rosenberg purported to give to the 
despotism a pseudo-scientific basis and to provide in the 
primitive cult of the 'master race' an intellectual justification 
for its policy: the policy whose practical results were the 
gas chambers of Auschwitz. 

The propaganda for the 'master race* theory was carried 
into the smallest villages; the notice The Jews are our mis- 
fortune' appeared everywhere in shop windows: Der Stunner 
carried endless perverted scandal stories. The Xazis were at 
some pains to give a legal veneer to their annihilation cam- 
paign, and one inhuman law succeeded another. First came 
the dismissal of all Jewish officials, then their exclusion from 
all professions; followed by deprivation of citizenship, 
imposition of higher taxes, compulsory labour and finally 
discrimination in private as well as public life : they were 
branded with yellow stars, not allowed to have pets, cars, 
telephones or wireless; to buy books or newspapers, nor even 
to use automatic ticket machines or public telephones. 
On the notorious Kristattnacht, in November 1938, a mob, 
organised by the authorities, demolished their shops and 
burned down their Synagogues, without opposition from the 
police, in even 7 German town. 

Those people who retained their independence in face of 
such doctrines came up against the full power of the machine, 
and found that they too incurred, first, defamation, then 
persecution and finally death. But there were scientists, 
teachers, journalists and men of learning who stood up to the 
Nazi disciples of 'Culture* and 'Race' against the bogus 
racial theories, the abuse of medicine to allow euthanasia, 
forced sterilisation, experimental murders and finally against 
legal mockerj- and the national policy of war. They were 
ready to give up their lives in defence of the freedom of the 
mind, and by doing so they challenged the arrogant belief of 
the tyrants in power that the mind is something that can be 
bought, conditioned, degraded and enslaved. 



33 



CARL von OSSIETZKY 

3 October 18893 May 1938 

CARL vox OSSIETZKY came from a lower-middle class 
Catholic family in Hamburg. He won an international reputa- 
tion as a journalist and died on 3 May 1938, as a prisoner of 
the Gestapo in Berlin. 

He was one of the first victims to be arrested on the morn- 
ing after the Reichstag fire, and his martyrdom in concentra- 
tion camps lasted for more than three years. But when the 
Berlin Propaganda Ministry learned that he was being 
seriously considered in Oslo for the award of the Nobel Peace 
Prize, the Gestapo were obviously much embarrassed and 
ordered that he should be taken to a prison hospital in Berlin. 

Four months later, a few days before the final decision of 
the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, Hermann Goring 
had the powerless 'deadly enemy' brought into his office, so 
that he could talk to him; and there, now with threats and 
now with flattery, he tried to extract from Ossietzky a 
promise to the effect that, should the Nobel Prize decision 
fall in his favour, he would reject it with some sort of personal 
declaration as to his unworthiness; if he would do this he 
would be allowed to go free and to enjoy material security, 
and be left in peace. Ossietzky said 'No', and went back to 
his prison. 

A week after this discussion, while German newspapers 
and broadcasting stations were spreading the provoking 
news and describing it as 'an impudent challenge to the 
"Third Reich"' the prize-winner had been moved, on 
Goring's orders to a municipal hospital, where he lay under 
strict arrest and special supervision. In Oslo however, the 
President of the Nobel Prize Committee received the follow- 
ing telegram: 'Grateful for the unexpected honour Carl 
von Ossietzky/ The sender had to pay for it by life-imprison- 
ment, but no one had dared hold up his message. This 
courageous decision, in spite of all the pressure which was 
put upon him was in fact the measure of Ossietzky's 
character, for such decisions determined the part he played 
in public life in Germany. 
34 



In his youth, in Hamburg, Ossietzky's fight a journalistic 
fight was directed against the influence of the army in the 
home and foreign affairs of the Reich. When he was thirty he 
came back from the western front, where he had fought as a 
private soldier, deeply shaken and embittered by the war 
experiences of his generation, and brought back with him the 
firm resolve to devote his energy and talents to opposing all 
and any forces which might bring about another war; and to 
work no less energetically to build and to protect a free, 
democratic Republic, ruled by citizens who were glad and 
proud of their responsibilities. 




Photo from Tagtsspitgel /tits 

Carl von Ossietzky in Papenburg-Estencegen concentration 
camp, where he received the following information: 

THE NOBEL COM^TTEE of the NORWEGIAN STORTHIXG 
has in accordance with the provisions laid down by 

ALFRED NOBEL 

in his Will of November 27 1895 awarded the 

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE for 1935 to 

CARL VON OSSIETZKY 

Oslo, December 10, 1936. 

35 



To those ends, he first went to Berlin as Secretary of the 
German Peace Society, then became editor of liberal news- 
papers and periodicals and found, in 1927, as editor of the 
Weltbiihne, a platform which satisfied his insistence on com- 
plete freedom of speech and which was well suited to an 
intellectual guerrilla who lacked only the sharp elbows of the 
successful politician. 

Ossietzky wrote in a brilliant, versatile, aggressive and 
often bitingly witty style. As German politics degenerated 
into a latent civil war between the left-wing radicals and the 
right-wing and conservative groups, Ossietzky emerged as a 
bulwark against the National Socialist threat; and as a critic 
of the parties of the right which were friendly disposed 
towards Hitler and of the military and legal forces which 
were prepared to compromise with Nazism. 

Ossietzky brought to light in his periodical the work of 
many pro-Soviet writers, but he himself complained that 'the 
word "freedom" is given no place in the vocabulary of Red 
Russia', and that Moscow wanted to pack the European 
affiliations of the Communist Party with their 'weak-willed 
satellites and half-witted slaves'; meanwhile the men charged 
with the protection of the Republic and of freedom in 
Germany were clearly told where they had gone wrong, by 
commission or by default as the case might be : so it was not 
surprising that he had to meet attacks, as he himself put it, 
'from the Right, accusing me of betrayal of national interests, 
and from the Left, charging me with irresponsible carping 
aestheticism*. 

The first great test came with the famous Leipzig trial 
before the Reich Court, which took place in secret in 1931. 
Ossietzky was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment on a 
charge of 'treason and betrayal of military secrets'; the result 
of violent attacks in the Weltbiihne in which he had stated 
that camouflaged funds, withdrawn from parliamentary 
control, had been put at the disposal of certain military 
departments, and that they were being used on Soviet terri- 
tory, with the co-operation of the Soviet government, for the 
secret but intensive production of air armaments for 
Germany. Ossietzky could easily have avoided his prison 
sentence by going abroad, for the guilt-ridden authorities 
would have been in no position to interfere. But he main- 
tained that the Weltbiihne could remain true to its reputa- 
36 



when things became difficult, he chose 'not the convenient 
solution, but the necessary one'. Ossietzky remained in 
Germany and went to prison. 

Seven months later, after he had been released under the 
Christmas Amnesty of the Chancellor, von Schleicher, he 
again refused, in February 19-33, to choose a 'convenient' 
solution. After Hitler had become Chancellor, his friends 
implored him to save himself in time by going abroad. 'After 
my final election article/ he replied. He did not want to leave 
until he had made this last attempt to avert evil. On the same 
night that Ossietzky's last warning cry was printed, the 
Reichstag was set on fire, and at 5 o'clock in the morning they 
came to fetch him. 

In the concentration camp, whenever Ossietzky bled from 
the blows of his tormentors or collapsed with a heart attack 
during hard labour, they would allow him a few days rest on 
his wooden bunk, and then a high Nazi official would appear 
and suggest that he should sign a release petition saying that 
he had 'revised* his opinions. To this compromise with 
dictatorship Ossietzky said *Xo', and for his *XV he was 
silenced by slow, murderous 'special treatment' until, ill 
beyond hope, his life quietly slipped away in the darkness of 
isolation. 



37 



FRITZ SOLMITZ 

22 October 189319 September 1933 

FRITZ SOLMITZ was bom in Berlin, the only son of well-to- 
do parents. He studied national economy at Freiburg 
University for one term and in August 1914 volunteered for 
military service, but owing to an accident his call-up was 
postponed until 1915. 

Fritz Solmitz's experience of war on the western front 
made him a pacifist. On his return in November 1918 he took 
part briefly in the fight against the Sparticists in Berlin, but 
was soon demobilised, took his degree in political economy 
and became an official in the public welfare service in Berlin. 
In 1924 he entered the field of political journalism, and for 
the last nine years of his life he was political editor on the 
staff of the Lubecker Volksbote, where he worked closely 
with Julius Leber. Until 1933 he was also a member of the 
Liibeck City Council. 

He seems to have made up his mind quite early to devote 
his life to the cause of justice; and the two main driving 
forces which combined to shape his personality were his 
Jewish faith and his insight into the injustice of the social and 
economic conditions of his time. Tor me, politics have never 
been anything but a means to justice/ he wrote in a passage 
taken from his posthumously published work. He lived up to 
his beliefs, and was unassuming so far as he was himself con- 
cerned but always ready to help anyone who was in need. 
He served the cause through his allegiance to the Social 
Democratic Party, and in the work he did for associations 
with social, educational and pacifist aims. He followed his 
course passionately and, with an uncompromising love of 
truth, he wrote while in prison in Liibeck: 1 believe that 
absolute honesty with oneself is the most important 
axiom of religion. Lies are the beginning of all that is 
ungodly/' 

His mind and his words were clear-cut, and so was their 
warning. His insight and his almost prophetic anticipation 
of the political developments in Germany enabled him to 
foresee the consequences of Nazi tyranny in their true horror, 
38 




and as time went on he made it clear, in many grave and 
profound discussions, that he was quite aware of the 
insecurity of his own life. In all his political and journalistic 
activities and in particular in his work with the young, he 
tried above all to arouse people to their responsibilities as 
citizens of a democratic republic. On 24 May 1925, he wrote 
on the occasion of a meeting of the Eeidisbanner : 'But we 
want to create a fatherland which is a real home to each of 

39 



us. \Ve want a Germany that we can love freely and without 
shame, love not only the country and the people but also the 
state, which is the synthesis of the two. But we can love only 
a state which builds its greatness not on blood and iron, but 
on prosperity and shining armour, a state which is based on 
work and justice, a state which we, as free working men and 
women, can fashion according to the image we each have in 
our own minds/ 

On 19 February 1933, three weeks after Hitler's assump- 
tion of power, Liibeck witnessed a mass parade of workers 
and liberals such as it had not seen since 1918. Speaking at 
the demonstration, Fritz Solmitz said: 'Are you merely a 
motley crowd which will fall apart as soon as the first shot is 
fired? I am convinced of the opposite. Threats and terrorism 
will only unite us more closely/ And the next day he wrote 
in the Volksbote : 'We will not gain our end without sacri- 
fices. The soldiers of the Republic know why these sacrifices 
must be made/ 

On 11 March 1933, Fritz Solmitz was arrested in Liibeck. 
Friends had advised him to take flight, but he wanted to 
share the hardships of the Liibeck workers. For a short time 
he was kept in custody at the Burgtor prison, and then in 
May 1933 he was sent to Fuhlsbiittel concentration camp 
near Hamburg. At the beginning of September Karoline 
Solmitz succeeded in persuading the National Socialist Senate 
in Liibeck to order her husband's release; but the release 
never in fact came about. 

On 13 September, after the Chief of the Liibeck Gestapo 
had just visited Fuhlsbiittel camp, Solmitz was placed in 
solitary confinement and so brutally treated that death came 
as a relief during the night of 18-19 September. Dying, and 
in great agony, he wrote a few words of farewell to his wife, 
on cigarette paper which she found later in his watch case. 
They ended with the last verse of Hebbel's poem : "Dem 
Schmerz sein Recht'. 

Many people went the same way as Fritz Solmitz, silently, 
with dignity, and simply because it was not in them to be 
different, and others made heroic protest. But all these had 
one thing in common which distinguished them from the 
rest : they had recognised evil and could not, and would not, 
take it upon themselves to live together with it. 

While he was in prison Fritz Solmitz seems to have been 
40 



much aware of the limits imposed on individual destiny, and 
its relation to the future; he wrote to his children : 

1 feel all too clearly that anything I have been able to give 
has been crude and poor, but I have always believed that it 
is best in these disordered days to live out one's life in the 
service of God and otherwise to keep quiet. For it is not my job 
to tell what is going on in the minds of the multitude, and 
today I am speaking only to you. and quite softly: may God 
grant you true innocence and true kindness, that gladden the 
heart/* 



41 



KURT HUBER 

24 October 189.313 July 1943 

KURT HUBER was born at Chur, in Switzerland, where his 
father taught at the Canton school. In 1897 the family moved 
to Wiirttemberg and Kurt passed his matriculation in 
Stuttgart. He studied the theory of music and philosophy 
in Munich, took his degree in 1917, and in 1920 was formally 
admitted to the Faculty of Philosophy and Psychology; he 
became a regular lecturer in 1925 and an Extraordinary 
Professor in 1926. In 1937, at the request of the Prussian 
Ministry for Religion, Education and Culture, he established 
the folk-song department of the archives for German music 
research, but he soon came into conflict with the leaders of 
the students' and Hitler Youth organisations, and as a result 
went back to his old post in Munich. Huber was an intellec- 
tual, he was deeply religious and he was a man of complete 
integrity, whose refusal ever to compromise inevitably 
brought him up against his superiors in the state hierarchy, 
and set him at loggerheads with the measures of state com- 
pulsion. No less inevitable were his ties with student resist- 
ance groups, and he was particularly close to the group 
round the Scholl family. At the turn of the year 1942-43 there 
was endless discussion in these circles, on means of resisting 
the growing terror, on the futility of prolonging the war and 
on the way to a spiritual and moral regeneration of Germany. 
On 8 and 9 February 1943, Kurt Huber himself drafted 
the leaflet which the Scholls, ten days later, scattered in the 
Munich university courtyard. 

'. . . In the name of German youth we demand of Adolf 
Hitler that he return to us the personal freedom which is the 
most valuable possession of every German, and of which he 
has cheated us in the basest possible manner. We have grown 
up in a State where freedom of speech is brutally muzzled. 
During the most formative years of our lives, the Hitler Youth, 
the SS and the SA have tried to standardise us, to coerce us 
and to drug us. "Indoctrination" is the despicable method by 
which all independent thinking and values have been choked 
with platitudes. . . . We are concerned for true knowledge 
42 




and for genuine freedom of the spirit. No threat can intimidate 
us, not even the closing of our universities. . . . The name of 
Germany will be sullied for ever unless German youth now at 
last rises to crush its tormentors and to restore the spirit of 
Europe. Each and all of us must fight for the future, for liberty 
and for our own honour in another kind of state, one which is 
confident and united. . . / 

43 



On 27 February 1943, the Gestapo carried off Kurt Huber 
from his flat. On 19 April he was sentenced to death together 
with Willi Graf and Alexander Schmorell, two of his students. 
On 13 July he was beheaded. These are some of the notes he 
made for his final pleading before the Court : 

'As a German citizen, as a German university teacher, and 
as a man who is politically alive, I regard it not only as my 
right but also as my moral duty to help to decide the fate of 
Germany, to expose obvious defects and to combat them. . . . 
I have set out to arouse the students, not by the establishment 
of some sort of organisation, but by simple words; not by 
any act of terrorism, but by helping them to gain an insight into 
the serious deficiencies of our political life. A return to clear 
moral principles, to the constitutional state and to mutual trust 
of man to man all that, far from being illegal, is simply the 
restoration of law. Following Kant's Categorical Imperative, I 
have asked myself what would happen if this, my individual 
maxim, were to become general law. There can be but one 
answer; in that case order, security and trust would return to 
our country and to our political life. Every morally responsible 
person would raise his voice with us against the menacing 
ascendancy of might over right, of dictatorship over the will of 
the morally good. The demand for self-determination, even on 
a purely local level, has been stifled all over Europe, no less 
than the demand that traditional and racial customs be pro- 
tected. The pre-requisite of a true national life has been 
destroyed by the systematic undermining of trust between 
man and man. There can be no more deadly condemnation of 
a national community than the confession we all have to make; 
that no-one can trust his neighbour, that a father no longer 
feels sure of his sons. 

"There is a point at which the law becomes immoral and 
unethical; that point is reached when it becomes a cloak for 
the cowardice that dares not stand up against blatant violations 
of justice. A state which suppresses all free speech and which, 
by imposing the most terrible punishment, treats each and every 
attempt at criticism, however morally justified, and every 
suggestion for improvement as "plotting high treason", is break- 
ing an unwritten law. . . . 

1 beg and entreat you on this occasion to judge these young 
defendants opposite in a truly constructive manner, to seek and 
to hear not lip-service to power, but the clear voice of con- 
science; and so to consider the motives which prompted the 
deed. These motives were in fact the most selfless and the most 
44 



idealistic that one can imagine. They were striving for absolute 
justice, integrity and truthfulness in public life. 

Tor myself, I claim that my warning to reflect on the lasting 
principles essential to the existence of a constitutional state is 
the supreme need of our time; and that to ignore it would mean 
the destruction of the German spirit and eventually of the 
German nation. I have achieved one object, in that I have made 
this statement and given this warning before the highest court 
in Germany and not before some insignificant private debating 
club. I stake my life in its support and in support of this my most 
solemn entreaty to turn back. , . . 

'History will vindicate what I now say and do; of that I am 
quite sure. Before God I hope that the spiritual strength which 
is the justification for my own actions may also and before it is 
too late take hold of my compatriots. I have done what I had 
to do, what my own conscience required. I take the con- 
sequences upon myself. . . / 



45 



ELISABETH von THADDEN 

29 July 18908 September 1944 

THE following account was found among the papers which 
Ricarda Huch left behind at her death : 

1 met Elisabeth von Thadden at the home of a mutual 
friend in Heidelberg. I had been rather dubious about meeting 
her, for when I tried to imagine the Pomeranian headmistress 
of a Protestant boarding school which recruited its pupils from 
army circles, I was left with a picture of some kind of 
bespectacled female sergeant major, perhaps not unpleasant, 
but rather strange. But I had not been with her for a quarter 
of an hour before I took a great liking to her. In her presence 
one forgot, for the moment, her origin, standing and profession 
and was aware only of her human qualities, although she was 
in fact a typical representative of her homeland and of her 
calling. She was tall, strong and stately, and the utter confidence 
of her bearing reminded one of a matriarch who ran a large 
estate and held sway just and kindly over a big family and 
an army of servants. 

'She was no blue-stocking, neither pedantic nor dogmatic, 
and her sense of humour and cheerfulness were most to the 
fore. Her friends knew that she was deeply religious and her 
Protestant faith was so much a part of her nature that there 
was no need for her to emphasise it. I doubt if one would have 
got anywhere with her by discussing theology or philosophy. 
She probably never went through a period of doubting or had 
any difficulty in accepting the conventional dogma. Faith was 
for her a matter of course, like her love of her country and her 
own people, something with which she lived and died and 
which could never be taken away from her. Above all there was 
something peculiarly childlike about her, which in contrast to 
her portly bearing was particularly attractive. She tackled every 
task with the confidence, curiosity and candidness of a child/ 

Elisabeth von Thadden was born on 29 July 1890, at 
Mohrungen, in East Prussia, where her father was chairman 
of the local council. In 1905, the family moved to Trieglaff, a 
country estate in Pomerania. After her mother's death 
Elisabeth, then twenty, took charge of the household and of 
her younger brothers and sisters. In 1920 her father married 
46 




again, and she took up teaching and passed her examination 
in youth leadership at the Anna von Gierke training school in 
Berlin. After a teaching job at the youth camp of Heuberg, 
in the Swabian mountains, and another at the school in 
Salem castle, she founded, in the spring of 1927, a Protestant 
boarding school at Schloss Wieblingen, near Heidelberg. Her 
school flourished, but in the summer of 1941 she was forced 
by various new state regulations to resign from the manage- 
ment. She then began to work for the Red Cross, where, 
according to her sister Ehrengard, she was much distressed 

47 



to find that some of the letters from prisoners of war in Russia 
were destroyed, because Hitler considered they might be 
bad for the morale of the troops at the front. 

From 1943 onwards Elisabeth von Thadden worked at 
various soldiers* recreation centres in France. On 10 Septem- 
ber 1943, while she was on leave, she invited a young man to 
tea because an old friend in Switzerland had asked her to 
introduce him into Christian and conservative circles in 
Berlin, saying he had had terrible experiences with the Nazis. 

This young man reported to the Gestapo all that was said 
at the tea party and as a result the guests who had attended 
the party were arrested in the course of the next few months. 
On 1 July 1944, the People's Court sentenced Elisabeth von 
Thadden to death, together with Otto Kiep, a Minister in the 
diplomatic service, on the grounds that die conversation in 
question were detrimental to fighting morale, and tanta- 
mount to high treason. 

During the weeks that followed her sentence, Elisabeth 
von Thadden was kept in handcuffs, but she was able to 
dictate to Pastor Ohm, the prison chaplain, and thus to com- 
municate with her family : 

1 was arrested at Meaux, in France, at 8 a.m. on a January 
morning in 1944. 1 was brought by car from M. to Paris where 
I was interrogated from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then, after one 
hour for supper, the cross-examination continued throughout 
the night The next day a warrant of arrest was issued. I had 
several opportunities to escape but I did not make use of them 
because I did not want to incriminate my brother. I was then 
taken to Berlin and again cross-examined all night. The 
inquisition was quite terrible. I was asked about the Confes- 
sional Church and the Una Sancta. I said nothing that might 
incriminate others. Ravensbriick concentration camp was awful. 
I have had nothing to do with the 20 July uprising, I know 
none of the people involved. We ourselves wanted to help in the 
field of social service whenever the need should arise. It was 
dear that the time would come. We wanted to be good 
Samaritans/ 

Pastor Ohm, who on 8 September 1944 accompanied 
Elisabeth von Thadden to the door of the execution chamber, 
said that her steps were sure and her bearing steady. Her last 
words were those of a verse from the hymn by Paul 
Gerhardt : T?ut an end, O Lord, to all our sufferings/ 
48 



NIKOLAUS GROSS 

30 September 189823 January 1945 

XIKOLAUS GROSS came from the river Ruhr, the son of 
a labourer. After he left the elementary school he went into 
the mines and also attended evening classes and a school for 
public speaking, and at the age of twenty he founded the 
first youth groups of the Christian Miners' Movement. He 
himself became secretary of one youth group and later Trade 
Union Secretary in Xiederschlesien, Zwickau and the Ruhr. 
In 1930 he became editor of the Westdeutsche Arbeiter- 
zeitung. In everything he said or wrote, he consistently 
opposed Nazism and all its works, and continually asserted 
his fundamental precept, that 'Christian family life is the 
basis of society'. 

When the Ketteler Wacht, the successor to the West- 
deutsche Arbeiterzeitung, was finally banned, he continued 
to air his convictions by any possible means, in talks to small 
groups and in private conversation. He also worked in close 




co-operation with Bernhard Letterhaus in building a net- 
work among trade unions and Catholic working-men's asso- 
ciations in preparation for the attempt of 20 July 1944, and 
for this he was arrested on 12 August, sentenced to death on 
15 January 1945, and executed on the 23rd. 
* # * 

The following extracts from one of Nikolaus Gross's earlier 
works, Sieben um einen Tisch (Seven round a Table) give 
some indication of his attitudes and ideas : 

'Childish dreams pale and a guiding purpose for living takes 
their place : it is our task to arouse this purpose in children/ 

'What kind of a picture should we set before them? I believe 
it should be a picture of a man of character and maturity; of a 
man who develops his individuality in freedom, but without 
losing his way; of an independent man to whom ability is both 
a goal and a serious responsibility, who masters unruly dreams 
and longings by the strength of his mind and discipline of his 
will; of a man whose wealth lies within him, who seeks sim- 
plicity and integrity, is true to himself/ 

'Sometimes my heart is heavy and the task seems insoluble 
when I measure my own imperfections and my own inadequacy 
against my obligations and responsibilities. When I look at my 
children at meal times, and listen to their gay chatter, when I 
reflect on the many roads which must cross, converge and part 
in the course of their lives, when I look into this life and seek 
an answer to its problems, then I find only one. Every human 
being is the keeper of his own destiny. He cannot evade or 
mitigate it in any way without being untrue to himself/ 

In a farewell letter to his wife and seven young children 
he wrote : 

*. . . Do not fear that I feel any great dismay in the face of 
death. I have prayed every day that God will give us both 
strength to accept with patience and humility whatever He 
decides or permits. And in prayer I find peace and calm. 

'I think of you with love and deep gratitude. How good God 
is, and how rich He has made my life. He gave me love and 
mercy and a loving wife and good children, and I shall be 
grateful for that for the rest of my life. I thank you my dear 
ones for everything you have done for me; forgive me if I have 
ever hurt you, or failed in my duty towards you . . . 
50 



"Sometimes in the long months of my captivity I have won- 
dered what will become of you when I am gone. I realised long 
ago that your fate does not depend on me. If it is God's will 
that I should no longer be with you, then He has help ready 
for you which is independent of me. . . / 



51 



ERICH KNAUF 

21 February 18952 May 1944 

ERICH KXAUF came from a working class family in Saxony. 
At fourteen he began his apprenticeship as a compositor; and 
in the spring of 1914 he spent a few weeks wandering through 
Italy, Greece and Turkey. From 1915-18 he was on active 
service, and in 1920 took part in the suppression of the Kapp 
Putsch in Gera. 

After teaching for a year at a college in Tinz, Knauf 
turned to political and literary journalism and from 1922 to 
1928 was editor of the Plauen Volkszeitung. His articles on 
painting and pictures and his theatre reviews were widely 
admired, but also involved him in a series of law suits and 
fines. For several years after this he worked with the Guten- 
berg Book Guild and at the same time wrote a novel about 
the Kapp Putsch, a biography of Daumier and a book of 
profiles of twenty-two artists from Daumier to Kollwitz. 
When the Nazis took over the Book Guilds in 1933 Knauf 
resigned and a year later, as the result of a review in the 
8-Uhr-Abendblatt, he was expelled from the Reich Press 
Association and had to spend ten weeks in the concentration 
camps of Oranienburg and Lichtenburg. 

After his release he turned to advertising for industry and 
for films, and continued this work until, on 28 March 1944, he 
and Erich Ohser, who had become famous, under the name 
of E. 0. Plauen, for his human and loveable drawings in the 
Father and Son series, were arrested. 

The following extracts from the documents in the case 
against Erich Knauf and Erich Ohser speak for themselves : 

From Captain Schultz Berlin 

To F., for the attention of the 22 February 1944 

Head of the Department. 
WPrF/H 

Since the destruction of my flat at Trabenerstrasse 49, my 

wife and I have been living in Berlin-Kaulsdorf, Ani- 

Feldberg 3. The Publicity Officer of the Terra Film Company, 

Erich Knauf, and Erich Ohser, a cartoonist, live in the same 

52 




house . . . The following are remarks made by one or other 
of them on various occasions, and are rendered word for word 
whenever possible: 

Knauf, discussing an article by Dr Goebbels which appeared 
in Das Reich, said inter alia: This little rat is paid 1,500 
marks for each article, even though he is the liopaganda 
Minister and ought to write them for nothing. . . .' 

Ohser agreed, saying that he, as a regular contributor to 
Das Reich, knew all about it, and that Dr Goebbels, as so-called 
Minister, had so strangled and enraged all German artists that 
German art, as any blind man could see, had gone to the 
dogs. . . . 

Ohser : 'Himmler only keeps his job by ordering between 80 
and 100 executions a day ... I know that from the way my 
own circle of friends is dwindling. . . ." 

Knauf: 'All the worst shirkers are in the SS. . . / 

Knauf and Ohser: *A German victory would be the greatest 
misfortune, for only then can Hitler, so he himself says, become 
a real National Socialist . . / 

I have held up this information until now in order to be 
quite sure that I had interpreted Knauf and Ohser's views 
correctly. 

(signed) SCHULTZ 



53 



From The Undersecretary Berlin 

To The Minister 29 March 1944 

The first reports on the interrogation of the accused in the 
state-loyalty affair are to hand. . . . 

The Gestapo official in charge, Lietzenburg, hopes to extract 
a confession from the accused in the course of further inter- 
rogation. If however no results are forthcoming, the accused 
will be confronted with Captain Schultz. 

I will keep you informed. 

Heil Hitler! 

(signed) GUTTERER 

Office of the Under-Secretary Berlin 

Memorandum on the discussion with 1 April 1944 

the Under Secretary 

Subject: Ohser and Knauf 

. . . The Minister now wants Freisler to handle the main pro- 
ceedings himself, if possible before Easter. The Minister also 
requests, as the matter concerns him personally, that Freisler 
' should consult him by telephone before sentence is passed, as 
he may wish to reduce it. R. is not convinced that this is the 
best way to handle the matter and suggested that Freisler 
might, when he had given some thought to the matter, get in 
touch with the Minister by telephone. 

The Under-Secretary thereupon telephoned Freisler and fixed 
the proceedings for next Tuesday or Wednesday, before the 
People's Court. It has proved impossible to obtain the services 
of independent judges at such short notice, so Freisler will have 
to select judges from the ranks of the Berlin Party Leaders, 
in so far as they have been appointed judges of the People's 
Court by the Fuhrer. Freisler must get in touch with the 
Minister again before the proceedings begin. 

Action : Consult Dr Metten, Public Prosecutor's Department. 

(signed) DR PRAUSE 

From The Undersecretary Berlin 

To The Minister 1 April 1944 

. . . Captain and Mrs Schultz have agreed to give evidence 
on oath against the accused. They give the impression of being 
reliable. The matter is now being passed on to the Chief Public 
Prosecutor at the People's Court. Care will be taken to expedite 
affairs. 

I will keep you informed. 

Heil Hitler! 

(signed) GUTTERER 

54 



Berlin 

R. 1408/3.4.44/372-1,4 3 April 1944 

From Dr Schmidt-Leonhardt, 
Ministerial Director, 
To The Minister 

Subject: Case against Ohser and Knauf 

According to my instructions I called on President Freisler 
and discussed the matter with him in detail, and afterwards, 
at his request, with Lautz, the Chief Public Prosecutor. Ohser 
has now retracted his partial confession, so that new witnesses 
will have to be called to ensure his conviction. These are now 
being questioned. For this reason the documents cannot as yet 
be sent to the Chief Public Prosecutor, much less to the Court, 
in fact the transfer certainly cannot take place before tomorrow 
morning. In spite of these difficulties, matters will be expedited 
so that the main trial can take place on Wednesday at 9 a.m. 
President Freisler, who will be the Presiding Judge, is giving 
the matter his personal attention ... he says he never, on 
principle, predicts the outcome of a trial, but implies that two 
death sentences are probable; an opinion which, in new of the 
severity of the charges, I am inclined to share. . . . 

Heil Hitler! 

pp. S 

R.M.f.V.u.P Berlin 

R. 1403/3.4.44/372-1,4 4 April 1944 

Subject: Material from Dr Metten, Public Prosecutor 

To Dr Freisler 

President of the People's Court URGENT 

Berlin W9, Bettevuestrasse By Special Messenger 

Dear Mr President, 

At your request I am sending you the following documents 
concerning the trial of Ohser and Knauf: 

1. A facsimile and 10 photostat copies of the caricatures 
signed Plauen. 

2. Two newspaper cuttings of speeches by the Fukrer and 
by the Minister of Propaganda, Dr Goebbels, which are con- 
cerned with German artists. 

3. A letter from the Personnel Office, dated 4 April 1944. 

So far as (1) is concerned, the photostat copies of the cari- 
catures might be included in the material for the proceedings. 
But I must ask you to return the other items to me as soon as 

55 



possible, as they are the only copies we have and are in frequent 
use. 

The selection under (2) is very meagre, as the press-cutting 
section cannot for the moment find quotations to meet your 
requirements. I have given instructions for further searches 
and if anything turns up I will let you have it at once. May I 
have these two cuttings back? 

The information from the local Personnel Office is also very 
meagre, for although it contains useful personal particulars, 
especially about the events of the day the two of them were 
bombed out, there is really nothing of any political significance. 
The Personnel Office say they cannot get hold of any such 
information until this afternoon at the earliest, as they must 
consult the Party Offices in the districts where the accused 
formerly lived, as the Office in the district where they now live 
has nothing. There is no other relevant information about either 
of them, either political or criminal, but if anything else comes 
in you shall have it as quickly as possible. 

HeH Hitler! 

Yours sincerely, 
pp. 

(signed) DR M. 

R.140S/4.4.44/S72-l,4 Berlin 

Official in Charge: Dr Metten, 4 April 1944 

Chief Public Prosecutor 
To The Minister 

Subject: Case against Ohser and Knauf 

A new problem has arisen : Thierack, the Minister of Justice, 
who is responsible to the Fuhrer for all cases concerned with 
the undermining of morale, has asked for an interview and, 
so I am told, demanded that he shall be fully informed of the 
facts of the case tomorrow morning. The proceedings scheduled 
for tomorrow morning cannot therefore take place. Herr 
Thierack will however see to it that they are held on Thursday, 
if this is at all possible. He has been informed of your interest 
and of your desire for speed. I will hear his views tomorrow 
morning, and will then know whether the proceedings have 
in fact been fixed for Thursday. I will then report to you 
immediately. 

The Minister of Justice's request to be informed in advance 
of the facts cannot be refused. 

Heil Hitler! 

(signed) SCHMIDT-LEONHARDT 
56 



R.1403/4.4.44/372-L4 5 April 1944 

Official in Charge: Dr Metten Berlin 

To The Minister 

Subject: Case against Ohser and Knauf 

President Freisler informs us that the proceedings are 
definitely fixed for tomorrow. 6 April, at 9 a.m. Dr Metten of my 
department will be present, and a report will be sent to you 
immediately afterwards. President Freisler also hopes to be 
able to send you details of the sentence early tomorrow after- 
noon. 

Heil Hitler! 

\signed. SCHMIDT- LEONHABDT 



From Dr Metten, Berlin 

Chief Public Prosecutor, 6 April 1944 

To The Minister 

Subject: Case against Ohser and Knauf 

The session was postponed until 10 a.m. owing to the 
announcement at 9 a.m. that Ohser had committed suicide. The 
proceedings were conducted by President Freisler in his 
capacity as Chairman of the Criminal Committee of the 
People's Court; with him was another professional judge and 
also, in an honorary capacity, Ahnels, Chairman of the District 
Council, Winter, a local Party Leader and von Mangold, a 
Labour official. 

As soon as the charge (continual undermining of morale and 
aiding the enemy) had been read out on behalf of the Chief 
Public Prosecutor the accused, Knauf, was given a hearing. 
Interrogation revealed that he was married, had no children, 
had fought in the war, had been awarded the Iron Cross 
(Second Class) and a medal for wounds received in action, and 
that he was the author among other things of the songs The 
Stars of my Homeland and Belb from Home. With regard to 
his political activities it was established that he, like his father, 
was a former member of the Social Democratic Party and that 
he had worked on Tribune, a Social Democratic newspaper 
appearing in Plauen, and with the Gutenberg Book Guild. 
Knauf denied every charge. 

57 



The chief witness for the prosecution, Captain Schultz, then 
gave evidence. He repeated his accusations against Knauf. His 
wife, who was then called to the witness box confirmed and 
amplified all he said. Both witnesses were quite convincing. 
Captain Schultz's evidence was reinforced by the fact that he 
had made detailed notes of the relevant remarks made by 
Ohser and Knauf. 

The death sentence, which the accused heard with com- 
posure, is absolute on pronouncement, since there is no legal 
appeal against sentences of the People's Court. After the report 
of the Judge's summing-up has been completed, the documents 
go to the Minister of Justice. He, by virtue of the special powers 
invested in him by the Fuhrer, may order the execution on his 
own responsibility; or, should he decide that a pardon might 
be granted, or should any further evidence be laid before him, 
he may put the matter before the Fuhrer for decision. 

Heil Hitler! 
(signed!) DR METTEN 



President of the Peoples Court 
Berlin W9, Bellevuestrasse IS 

11 April 1944 

Extracts from the Summing-Up : 

'. . . It is easy enough to understand how the accused came 
to make his demoralising and defeatist remarks, when one 
considers his observation that our victory would be the greatest 
possible misfortune, because only then could the Fuhrer 
become a real National Socialist. It is in fact hate of National 
Socialism, and of our uncompromising achievement in carrying 
out the programme which is the synthesis of our way of life, 
that has driven him to it. He has dug his own grave, his 
political development has gone full circle . . . He, a man who 
had an important position in the cultural life of our country, a 
man whose honour should have kept him to the straight and 
narrow way, has come to this! 

*We would not be true National Socialists if we were to 
match such deeds- the deeds of a man who has lost his honour 
for ever with anything less than the death penalty. 

TCnauf, since he has been found guilty, must also pay the 
costs. 

(signed) FREISLER (signature illegible) 
58 



Offices of the Minister of Justice Berlin W. 8 

IV g lOb 66*b/44 Wilhelrnstrasse ft5 

From Dr. Frankc\ 21 April 1<*44 

Office of the Public Prosecutor, URGENT 

To The Chief Public Prosecutor, 
Peoples Court, Berlin 
Personal (or official representative 
Enclosures: Order of 20 April 1944 original 

1 copy of the Order 

With reference to the trial before the People's Court on 
9 April 1944, in which Erich Knauf was condemned to death. 
I am sending you the original order of 20 April 1944, together 
with a certified copy, with the request that the necessary further 
steps may be taken with all possible speed. 

Please do not make this information public, either through 
the press or by proclamation. 

PP 

(signed) WOLLMER 



Office of the Public Prosecutor 
People's Court 
Ref. 4 J 777/44 

Account 
for the case against Erich Knauf 

Fee for the Death Penalty (see Articles 49/52 of the 

Penal Code) 300. 

Postage (see Article 72(1) of the Penal Code) ... 1 . 84 

Fee for the Counsel for the Defence, Ahlsdorff, 
Barrister, Berlin-Lichterfelde-Ost, Gartnerstrasse 
lOa (Article 72(6) of the Penal Code) 81.60 

Charge for Prison Maintenance, 6 April-2 May 1944 44. 

Costs for carrying out the sentence 158.18 

Postage for sending Account .12 

TOTAL R.M. 585.74 



Responsible for Payment : The Heirs of Erich Knauf . For the 
personal attention of Mrs Erna Knauf, Berlin-Tempelhof, 
Manfred-von-Richthoven-Strasse 13 5 bei Fa. Gilbert, Mach. 



The President Berlin W 9 

of the People's Court 6 April 1944 

Bellevuestrasse 15 
Tel 22 18 23 

Business Ref 

(Please quote in reply) 

To The Minister for Popular Enlightenment 
and Propaganda, Dr Goebbels 
Berlin W. 9 
1 Enclosure 

Dear Minister, 

I have the honour to send you the Sentence, passed today 
in the People's Court, on Knauf. 

HeH Hitler! 

Yours sincerely, 

(FREISLER) 



, to 

' 




^ h - ir ' d * s Urtffil 4w d Toll 
r. r* a u f gefillt njit, u iib.- 

H*U Hitler I 
Jhr aehr 




The President Berlin \V 9 

of the Peoples Court 11 April 1944 

Bellevuestrasse 15 
Tel 22 IS 23 

Business Ref 

(Please quote in reply) 
Enclosures 

Dear Ministerial Director and Party Member 

Schmidt-Leonhardt, 

Now that the case against Knauf is complete, I do not want 
the moment to pass without thanking you once more for the 
material you put at my disposal, which was most useful during 
the proceedings and in the preparation of the case. 

Heil Hitler! 

Yours sincerely, 

(FREISLER) 




erit vr.ri*hlR, l.into r.^ctoal ffir clt 




ADOLF REICHWEIN 

8 October 189820 October 1944 

ADOLF REICHWEIN grew up in Oberosbach and as a boy 
ran wild in the Taunus hills. He matriculated in 1916 and was 
immediately conscripted. In 1917 he was seriously wounded. 
After the war he studied philosophy, history and political 
economy and became a Doctor of Philosophy as early as 1920. 
His thesis appeared as a book under the title China und 
Europa : geistige und kunstleriche Beziehungen (China and 
Europe : Intellectual and Artistic Ties). 

While still quite young he entered the Prussian Ministry 
for Religion, Education and Cultural Affairs, but soon turned 
to practical teaching, first in a college for adult education 
and later as a university professor. He published four books, 
Die Rohstoffe der Erd'e (The Raw Materials of the Earth), 
Mexiko erwacht (Mexico Awakes), Erlebnisse mil Mensch 
und Tier (Experiences with Man and Beast), and Schaffendez 
Schulvolk (Creative Work in School). 

Susanne Suhr, who was in touch with him from the time 
he was in Jena up to the resistance days, says of Adolf 
Reichwein : 

'He was an unusual man, with unusual intellectual and 
human qualities everyone said so. This must have been the 
secret of his fascination, for he had no trace of self-satisfaction. 
It was as though the charm of youthfulness, of early promise, 
surrounded him like a tragic aura : for he never really reached 
maturity. Reichwein was the child of the youth movement, but 
tried always to live it down; and fate seems to have lent a hand 
while he was still young. At the age of twenty-two as a young 
Doctor of Philosophy in the Ministry he was able to try out his 
theories and ideals on adult education, and soon afterwards 
as director of the College of Thuringia, to put them into prac- 
tice. In this work, with students and workers of the Zeiss factory 
in Jena, he came in touch with all manner of men and remained 
in touch for the rest of his life. He longed for the day when 
new intellectual and ethical bonds would break down the time- 
honoured acceptance of a class-ridden society. He also realised 
that enthusiastic idealism must sooner or later give way to 
62 




Photograph taken in the People's Court 



political activity, but it was a long time before he moved in 
that direction. 

*A romantic love of adventure went side by side with a 
capacity for sober and disciplined work. He tramped through 
America, went to Japan as a seaman, smuggled weapons for 
the Kuomintang, fought against the rebels in Mexico, and 
thereby but quite incidentally collected a wealth of material 
for his books and lectures. 

In the Prussian Ministry, as Personal Adviser to the Minister 



'Becker), Reichwein played a decisive part in the founding of 
teachers' training cofleges, and himself went to the Teachers' 
College in Halle in 1930 as Professor of History and Social 
Studies. He rated example high, as an essential to all facets of 
teaching (perhaps even to the teaching of physical discipline 
for he himself flew a small sports aeroplane ! ). Up to this time 
he had always avoided connection with any political party, or 
any active political work : but as Hitler stood menacingly at the 
door and many people began fearfully to disown their former 
opinions, Reichwein avowed his allegiance to the Social Demo- 
cratic Party; just as after 1933, when every'aeroplane had to be 
marked with a swastika, he gave up his first machine because 
he could no longer fly as a "free man". 

The National Socialists soon removed him from his professor- 
ship. He retired into the isolated existence of a village school- 
master, although many glittering offers came his way. 

'He enjoyed his work, but developments under the Hitler 
regime troubled him deeply and he began to take an increas- 
ingly active part in resistance. Known only to a few trusted 
friends, he became a sworn member of the group planning the 
attempt on Hitler's life, and thanks to his unusually wide circle 
of friends he was able to tie up many of the loose ends; he 
was for instance the main link between the Kreisau and other 
resistance groups, particularly with those among industrial 
workers. He worked closely with many old friends and many 
new ones, all at one in their intent and purpose; and his office 
in the Prinzessinnen Schlosschen, Unter den Linden he was 
then working at the Folklore Museum in Berlin was a cover 
for many secret meetings and discussions. The way from ethics 
and awareness to political action had not been easy for him; 
but his courage, his loyalty to his friends and his sense of the 
moral obligation to do what was necessary, whatever the con- 
sequences, led him without faltering on the path he had chosen. 

While the secret preparations were in full swing, Reichwein 
was betrayed by a police spy, arrested and imprisoned. During 
the trial before the People's Court, under the presidency of the 
raging Freisler, he, who was as gentle as he was indomitable, 
must have suffered greatly. On 20 October, he was executed, 
and so joiaed many of his friends who had been condemned 
earlier.' 

On 16 October 1944 he write to his wife : 

1 need hardly say that my thoughts are still with life. But it 
is hard to write about that now, much though it might help. 
Looking back over the decades, one thing stands out; how rich 
64 



and rare these years have been for me. The misery of the first 
war fades into the background, just as other memories stand 
out, clear and strong : the happy carefree days of my youth in 
the country, my ten years in the Wandervogel, with rambles 
near and far, the friendships of my youth, the happy student 
days in Frankfurt and Marburg, and the firm friendships that 
sprang from them, and then the joys and satisfaction of my 
teaching work; then the rare gifts of my life, my travels in 
Europe, America and East Asia, the four years of flying and 
the bird's-eye view of the world, and the days and nights of 
scientific work in between; and finally the richest and most 
precious of all: the twelve years with you and the children. 
How much reason to be grateful ! ' 



65 



WALTHER ARNDT 

8 January 189126 June 1944 

WALTHER ARXDT studied at Breslau University and, like his 
father, chose natural science as his subject. In 1911 he took 
part for the first time in an expedition abroad, and on 18 
August 1914, having passed his final examinations, he 
received his degree as Doctor of Medicine. He subsequently 
volunteered for active service, was taken prisoner by the 
Russians on 23 October 1914, while he was a medical NCO 
in a field hospital, and was repatriated two and a half years 
later as part of an exchange of medical personnel. In May 
1917 he returned to Russia with the Prisoners-of-War Wel- 
fare Commission set up by the War Office and was captured 
a second time, as he had predicted, and eventually returned 
home in 1919 by a circuitous route via Japan, the Philippines, 
America and Sweden. In 1920, he took die degree of Doctor 
of Philosophy and afterwards accepted a post with the 
Zoological Museum in Berlin, where he worked first as an 
assistant and later as a curator and professor. 

Side by side with the tasks of a museum official, Walther 
Arndt produced and published numerous scientific works. 
He took an active part in the work of various scientific 
organisations and was always ready to take on any tasks 
concerned with public education which might come his way. 

In the course of his various exploring expeditions he made 
many contacts abroad. (His address book contained, in addi- 
tion to 600 German addresses, about 400 foreign addresses 
ranging over 47 countries). Abroad, his importance had been 
recognised very early : In 1929, the Peking Society of Natural 
History appointed him a corresponding member, and in 1932 
the Bulgarian Society for Scientific Research made him an 
honorary member; in 1938 he became a member of the Inter- 
national Zoological Nomenclature Commission and in the 
same year he received a medal from the King of the Belgians; 
in 1940, he was appointed an honorary member of the 
German Zoological Society. 

Arndt was known for his selfless and idealistic devotion to 
his scientific work; but in 1944 his doom was sealed by a 




remark he made after an air-raid, which he had spent putting 
out fire bombs in his museum, and which was reported to the 
authorities by one of his colleagues and a girl friend of his 
youth. He appears to have said something like this : 'Now 
this is the end of the Third Reich, it only remains to bring the 
guilty to punishment*; and for that he was sentenced to death 
by the People's Court on 11 May 1944. 

The notes he wrote in prison made it quite clear that he 
knew his fate. On 22 April 1944, for instance : 

If my life, which was so rich and happy, must now come to 
an end, perhaps it is according to the old saying "They whom 
the Gods love, die young". But wherever I may come to rest in 
the great universe, my soul will always turn towards our home/ 

Before his death on 26 June 1944 he wrote to his sister : 

Tve just been given the chance to send you a few lines. I 
think it's really better for all three of us that these days of 

67 



waiting are coming to an end today, though there have been 
some good hours among them . . . and now I feel rather like 
Faust : the hand moves, time stands still, the hour has come. . . . 
'How often have I opened the hymn book at the hymns we 
sang at father's funeral I shall do so again today and said 
them or sung them to myself. And I've just thought of his motto: 
"Be true until death . . .".' 

His last words, before the sentence was carried out, on 
26 June 1944 were : 'My sister, my own part of the country, 
and my scientific work were the loves of my life.' 

The following is an extract from the obituary which 
appears in the Archiv fur Hydrobiologie, 1947, volume XII, 
pp. 614-621 : 

Now, as I try to recapture the delightful personality of my 
unforgettable friend, in all its simple greatness and its absolute 
integrity, the conviction grows on me that all the characteristics 
which we loved and admired in him, sprang from three sources. 
The one which we may well regard as the main spring of his 
whole nature was human kindness, and the other two were an 
absolute love of truth and an unselfish devotion to duty. 

If I say that human kindness was his main characteristic I 
must add that it did not take the form of mere benevolence 
towards his fellow creatures : it was rather a case of active and 
positive kindness. I must give myself the pleasure of mention- 
ing at least one concrete example: I remember how I once 
asked him when he thought he would be promoted to the post 
of Curator of the Berlin Museum. *Well,' he said, *a vacancy has 
just occurred, and it would be my turn according to seniority. 
But I have decided to step down in favour of X, because he is 
a married man and so needs the security of a permanent post.' 

In his capacity as a research worker, however, it was not his 
kindness which took first place, but his absolute love of truth 
and objectivity, and his real devotion to his work. One could 
always rely absolutely on any statement which might appear 
in one of Arndt's publications; his method of compiling the 
relevant data from his reading, and the facts gathered by 
observation, was exemplary; never did he deviate by a hair's 
breadth, for the sake of a theory or for the purpose of more 
effective presentation, from what he regarded as the strongest 
probability on the strength of the proven facts. 

The very quality which distinguished both him and his work 
was, finally, also the cause of his early and terrible death. In a 
time and circumstance where hate was preached as a virtue, 



a man whose whole being was inspired by kindness to his fellow 
men and by an unshakable love of truth, was bound to come 
to grief sooner or later. Maybe there was nothing so particularly 
admirable in his frankness with people whom he believed he 
could trust; but none can fail to admire the great courage which 
Arndt displayed before his 'judges'; that is to say, in the face 
of certain death. With the help of the innumerable references 
and petitions handed in on his behalf, he might possibly have 
saved his life. The fact that he did not withdraw or qualify 
his assertion that he would sooner sacrifice his life in support 
of truth, than save it by denial, denotes a greatness of mind 
before which we must bow in admiration and gratitude. 

But for the men like Arndt, the avowed lovers of truth, one 
might despair of scientific objectivity. He did not die in vain. 
For this man who was condemned by the court as being 'for 
ever without honour', died in fact for tie honour of the German 
people, for the honour of science and for the honour of the 
human race. 

PROFESSOR ERNST MATIUES, 
Museo e Laboratorio Zoologico da Universidade Coimbra. 



3 FRIENDSHIP 

UNDER totalitarian rule, uniformity is everything and 
individuality counts for nothing. If tibe individual pits his 
will against the state, his will must be broken. 

One chapter in the history of resistance to National 
Socialism concerns the simple stories of help to friends and 
neighbours, help which is normally taken for granted but 
which takes on a special significance when it involves grave 
personal risk. People were hidden and people were warned. 
Money was collected by the neighbours and friends of the 
man who was in trouble and, as unobtrusively as possible, 
put at the disposal of his family. The hunted and the 
persecuted found refuge in the homes of their friends, who 
at risk of their own lives hid them for weeks and months on 
end. People who lived near the frontiers, fishermen and 
mountaineers, smuggled those under pressure out of the 
country. There were employers who took on men and women 
in need of protection, officials and soldiers who failed exactly 
to observe the regulations and thousands of people, of all 
kinds from the market woman who gave food, to the civil 
servant who falsified papers who stood by citizens of Jewish 
origin, in stark opposition to those who did not. When such 
actions were discovered, the wrath of the authorities did not 
descend only on the 'guilty' man; he had always to reckon 
that his family would also be involved, and the infamous 
Sippenhaft (family arrest) spared neither children nor old 
people. 

There was also a smaller band of people, which should 
not be forgotten, who believed that they would by dying ease 
the fate of others; and no-one will ever know how many took 
their own lives while under arrest in order to take their 
secrets with them. 

Personal stories are legion, but the following is typical of 
many: Dr Philipp Schaefer, a 45-year-old scientist, was 
executed on 13 May 1943, after proceedings against the 
Harro Schulze-Boysen group. He had wanted to rescue an 
old Jewish couple and had tried to climb into their flat, where 
they had turned on the gas taps, by a rope. But the rope 
broke. He was badly hurt and was taken to hospital, where 
70 



he was arrested. During the trial he was accused of having 
failed to report his friends to the Gestapo. He replied: 
'Gentlemen, I have been asked why I did not report this 
affair. I can only say that I ain not a police odd-job man.' 



71 



JOACHIM GOTTSCHALK 

I x the Stahnsdorf cemetery in Berlin there lies at rest an actor 
and his family. On the gravestone, put up by friends, are 
engraved their names, their dates of birth and the day of 
their common death: 

JOACHIM GOTTSCHALK 

Born 10 April 1904 

META GOTTSCHALK 

Born 13 August 1902 

MICHAEL GOTTSCHALK 

Born 19 February 1933 
Died 6 November 1941 

Hugo Gau-Hamm, who was in the same company as 
Gottsdbalk during the years in question, gives the following 
account of the events which lie behind this inscription : 

Joachim Gottschalk, the son of a doctor, had been at sea for 
three years when he decided to go on the stage. He built up a 
reputation in Leipzig and Frankfurt-am-Main and then signed 
a contract with Eugen Klopfer for the 1938-39 season in the 
Biilowplatz Theatre in Berlin, which was by that time only 
nominally connected with the People's Theatre Company, 
meanwhile disbanded by the Nazis. 

Gottschalk's first rdle was Fiesko, which he played with great 
success. His talent aroused justifiable expectations, he was very 
popular and his upright, straightforward character was a 
symbol of loyalty at a time when personal relationships were 
often very strained. He was known as 'Joschf to his friends and 
colleagues. To his great circle of admirers he seemed young, 
happy and successful, and only a few people knew that a dark 
shadow hung over the life and being of this quiet, unostenta- 
tious actor; but among his closest friends the fact that his wife 
was a Jewess was often discussed. 

Gottschalk knew that so long as Gustaf Griindgens directed 
the state theatres in Berlin, actors with Jewish wives would be 
able, with special permission, to cany on. But his was a special 
72 




Photo by Atdier Rutk Wilketmi 



case: his ability, his success on the stage and his youth had 
attracted the attention of those responsible for making 'politi- 
cally valuable' films. He won respect as a film actor in his first 
two parts and after his appearance with Paula Wessely in Ein 
Leben long his natural wish for success was fully realised, and 
he achieved widespread popularity. 

The popularity of an artist who was married to a Jewess and 
who, as it appeared, could not be persuaded to separate from 

73 



his wife, created difficulties for the Minister of Propaganda of 
the Third Reich. 1 can no longer bear the sight of him. . . / 
Goebbels' well-known intimation was readily understood, indeed 
it had to be understood, by his willing minions: Gottschalk 
was not wanted, he would not be allowed to continue to prac- 
tise his profession in the 'cultural' sphere, he would be banned 
from the stage, from films and from broadcasting . . . unless, 
of course, he would yield to the demand, repeatedly made and 
as often refused, that he should leave his wife. 

If on the other hand all sources of income were stopped, he 
would be unable to fulfil the many obligations he had incurred 
while he was receiving a substantial income from his film work. 
When he made this point, it was suggested to him that he 
should go on tour with the so-called 'Strength-through-Joy' 
organisation. Gottschalk was strongly opposed to such a dan- 
gerous offer : if he had to leave his wife and child alone, then 
he would do so only as a soldier, since the wife and child of a 
soldier must be protected from persecution. But when he 
volunteered for military service his offer was refused. 

The strain increased, and became torture. The day came 
when a rehearsal at the Hebbel Theatre could not begin 
because Gottschalk was missing. Then it was announced in an 
atmosphere of emotion, in flat, broken sentences full of shock 
and grief, that the Gottschalk family had chosen suicide. 

His wife and child were first lulled to sleep with veronal, 
then Gottschalk arranged everything exactly as he had agreed 
with his wife a little earlier, and finally he himself took leave 
of the world and his friends. Think of the words of Kleist,' he 
wrote in his last letter to his sister Ulrike, The truth is that 
there was no help for me on this earth/ 

The actor Ernst Sattler laid a wreath on their graves on 
behalf of all his colleagues. No word of remembrance was per- 
mitted, but the old grey-haired priest spoke courageously on 
that dismal November day, in spite of the presence of Nazi 
'supervisors'. He rejected the reproaches of those who had des- 
cribed the Gottschalk's action in killing their child as irrespon- 
sible, saying that in his opinion they were on the contrary 
prompted by a high sense of responsibility, in that they had 
decided not to leave their child alone in such a barbaric world. 

So much is easily forgotten. Today, when one reflects on the 
sudden death of the Gottschalk family, one can see that it pro- 
bably helped to save many other people, living under a similar 
strain, from a greater misery; and so one can find some sense, 
ironical though it may be, in this tragic story. 

Gottschalk was a man of high principle and, for what it is 
74 



worth, some of his friends believe that such considerations, 
the possibility that others who were in similar distress might be 
helped, played no small part in his decision to die. 



Q I 1 




Farewell message from Meta and Joachim Gottschalk, written 
a few hours before their suicide. 

(Translation) 

5 November 1941. 
Fanny my dear, 

Take this brooch as a souvenir, and goodbye. Thank you for 
your true friendship, you know what I wish for you ! 

My love to you afl, and you must not mourn for us, you know 
we are happy. Thank you for everything, 

and good luck, 

META 

About the money that you lent me. I have communicated 
with my sister. 

Greetings, 

JOACHIM 
75 



LILO GLOEDEN 

19 December 190330 November 1944 

THE death register for 1944 includes under the numbers 
3078/80 the following names: Erich Gloeden, Architect, 
born 23 August 1888, Berlin. Elisabeth Charlotte Gloeden, 
born 19 December 1903, Cologne. Elisabeth Kusnitzky, born 
21 January 1878, Strasbourg. 

Their crime is given as treason; the penalty, death; the 
date of conviction, 27 November 1944; the date and place of 
execution, 30 November 1944, Berlin. A short note states that 
the condemned had hidden Fritz Lindemann, a former 
general, in their home for six weeks, while aware of his being 
guilty of treason. 

Dr Lilo Gloeden was the daughter of a Cologne doctor, 
named Kusnitzky, and of his wife, formerly Baroness von 
Liliencron. In 19>38 she married Erich Gloeden, an architect. 
She was known as a woman with many artistic leanings and 
as a charming and conscientious wife and daughter. Her 
mother, who had settled in Berlin after the death of her 
husband, spent most of her time with her. 

Lilo was a woman of great integrity with a deep sense of 
justice. She and her husband found die conditions of those 
days quite unbearable, and were passionate opponents of the 
Nazi dictatorship. Whenever they could, they helped people 
who were oppressed; and in particular they concealed vic- 
tims of anti-Jewish and political persecution (among others 
Dr Goerdeler is said to have hidden for a while in their 
home). 

Soon after 20 July a friend of Erich Gloeden's, from Dres- 
den, brought to their house a General Lindemann, whom 
they did not know before, and for whose arrest the Gestapo 
had issued a warrant and offered a reward of half a million 
Reichmarks. He stayed longer than had been agreed, for it 
was obviously impossible for him to find other accommoda- 
tion. On 3 September a strong contingent of police seized 
him at the flat, and shot him. Erich, Lilo and her mother 
were arrested, and subjected by the Gestapo to terrible 
interrogation. 
76 




Photo by VoUubiUungsamt Charlottenbiarg 



Some years after the war, when the informer was on trial, 
fellow prisoners revealed that Gloeden had, in the autumn 
of 1944, tried until the end to protect the two women. He 
had maintained that they did not know that it was Linde- 
mann who was living with them; the General, he explained, 

77 



had been introduced under a false name. But when the death 
sentence was passed on her husband, Lilo Gloeden declared 
that she had from the start known the identity of the man 
they had sheltered, and that she wanted to die with her 
husband. Then old Mrs Kusnitzky said that she too was 
aware of her son-in-law's and daughter's complicity, and that 
life would have no further meaning for her after their death. 
At intervals of two minutes, man, wife and mother were 
beheaded in Plotzensee prison. 



78 



LOTHAR ERDMANN 

12 October 1888 IS September 1939 

LOTHAR ERDMANN spent his childhood in Halle, where 
his father was a professor of philosophy. He matriculated 
in Bonn in 1905, studied history and philosophy at Freiburg 
University and then went to London for a post-graduate 
course. There he came in contact with the Fabians, and so 




Photo by Atelier Atcauttim 

79 



began his allegiance to socialism. He volunteered in 1914 
and later became a company commander on the western 
front. After the war he worked for the Trade Union Inter- 
national in Amsterdam and simultaneously held a post with 
Wolff Telegraph Office. From 1924 to 1933 he was secretary 
of the German Trade Union Council in Berlin and during 
that time became editor of Die Arbeit. 

When the National Socialists took possession of the Trade 
Union offices, on 2 May 1933, Lothar Erdmann was among 
those who were reprimanded : but the new regime were at 
pains to win him over to their side. He consistently rejected 
their advances, including the request that he should con- 
tribute to the Arbeitsfront, the Nazi press organ, in spite 
of threats that he would otherwise be handed over to the SS. 
During the next few years he tried to keep going as a free- 
lance journalist, contributing to papers like Die Hilfe, but he 
and his family lived in very reduced circumstances. 

In a letter dated 19 July 1934, he wrote to his son : 

'Many older people demand of the young enthusiasm, devo- 
tion, faith and obedience. Enthusiasm? Yes, but only for men 
and ideas which one can support with passion and conviction 
after one has subjected them to every test. Faith? Certainly, 
but only in men worthy of trust, and in thoughts which emanate 
from truth and which need no justification, which are in them- 
selves convincing, positive and realistic. The wares which are 
to-day peddled in the market places are suspiciously reminis- 
cent of a bargain basement stocked with cheap and shoddy 
goods. 

'Obedience? Yes, but only when a simple purpose demands a 
definite chain of command in the army for instance. In other 
situations obedience may lead us to abandon our own future, 
and that of the nation, to the accidents of history and to blind 
historical chance, which often enough places leadership in the 
hands of a group, under whom passive obedience amounts to a 
crime against this and all future generations. 

*No, the duty to keep our heads above water, critically to 
examine people and opinions, and freely and objectively to 
decide what can be done, was never so pressing as it is in these 
obscure times. For true faith comes only through responsible 
and individual thinking: it is better that you keep your 
enthusiasms to yourself, than that your judgment be influenced 
by other people/ 

80 



At the outbreak of war, on 1 September 1939, Lothar 
Erdmann was arrested by the Gestapo for 'preventive 
reasons'. A week later, he was sent to the Sachsenhausen 
concentration camp. 

On the way to the camp, a fellow prisoner stumbled and 
was beaten by the guards. Lothar Erdmann protested against 
this treatment, telling the SS that such behaviour was 
impossible. At this the SS guards struck him also, and on 
arrival at the camp took him to the Commandant. To the 
question whether he knew why he was in a concentration 
came, Erdmann replied: *As an opponent of National 
Socialism'; and to the Commandant's second question, 
whether he knew what obedience meant, he retorted that 
there were various kinds of obedience; he himself had been 
an officer during the first world war, and his two sons were 
now serving at the front. 

Lothar was sentenced to punishment by drilling, which 
was to be increased by an hour each day. On the sixth day 
he broke down. This was labelled mutiny; so he was bound 
to a pole for three hours, to be beaten and kicked. The results 
were broken ribs, torn neck tendons and internal injuries. 
On 18 September 1939, death put an end to his suffering. 



81 



GERTRUD SEELE 

22 September 191712 January 1945 

'Michaela, my dearest little daughter, today your mother 
must die ... I have a great favour to ask of you, my child : you 
must be brave and sensible and try to make your grandparents 
happy. Your father is .... and was born on 5 March 1907, in 
Leipzig. You will find out the rest from your grandparents. 
You have all my dearest wishes for your life, and please love 
me always and never forget me. My heart weeps for you 
and for my parents. Do be nice to them and give them joy, by 
growing up to be able and good. I picture you in my arms, I 

press you to my heart and kiss you 

Goodbye, my darling little daughter 

from your despairing MOTHER/ 



(The missing parts were censored by the authorities of the 
People's Court. The editors have not thought fit to publish the 
name of the father.) 

GERTRUD SEELE was tried before the People's Court in 
Potsdam on 6 December 1944, and was sentenced to death. 
An amnesty was refused. Her last wish, 1 only want to see 
my child once more,' was ignored. The sentence was carried 
out at Plotzensee, Berlin. 

The events which led up to this death sentence were as 
Michaela's guardianship documents show investigated and 
established seven years later, through regular court pro- 
ceedings. 

Gertrud Seele, a talented child from a working-class family 
in Berlin, went to a secondary school for two years. On 
leaving the elementary school she worked in the Labour 
Service and at the age of 18 entered a nursing school. After 
completing her training she took a special course in public 
health and social welfare service, and finally took up work in 
that field. Her daughter Michaela was born on 11 September 
1941. In 1942 mother and daughter were evacuated to Merke 
Niederlausitz, but returned to Berlin in 1943. 




Gertrud's mother, Luise Seele, who has since died, wrote 
in a letter dated 27 August 1951 : 

'Once at a party in Merke people were complaining about 
the Nazis. Gertrud had a healthy sense of justice and fair play, 
so she was a passionate opponent of the Nazis, and during the 
conversation she expressed her indignation against them in no 



uncertain terms. During the war she repeatedly helped Jews 
and other persecuted people. And so at a time when other 
people were praising Hitler and the Nazis, she developed a 
loathing for them. She had left her belongings in Merke and 
went there in January to make sure they were all right, having 
not the slightest idea that she was in danger. In Merke she was 
arrested, taken to an investigation centre in Frankfurt-on-Oder 
and later moved to Berlin/ 

On 22 December 1951, Luise Seele, acting in the interests 
of her granddaughter Michaela, submitted an application 
under the law passed on 5 January 1951 (giving victims of 
the criminal law of the National Socialists the right to claim 
compensation) to the Public Prosecutor of the District Court 
of Berlin, asking for the cancellation of the previous judg- 
ment passed against her daughter by the People's Court. She 
wrote at the time: 'The papers concerning the judgment 
then passed were handed to the solicitor, but as he cannot 
now be traced, I am unable to quote file numbers.' 

In a letter dated 15 January 1952, she was informed by the 
Public Prosecutor of the District Court : 1 can find no trace 
of the case you raise in the court records, and the documents 
are no longer available. I must ask you to let me know the 
names of all the prisons where your daughter was kept in 
connection with the sentence in question. In the light of this 
information I will try to find out something about the case/ 

On 17 October 1952, after painstaking efforts and endless 
correspondence the previous sentence was quashed by the 
4th Criminal Chamber of the Berlin District Court. The 
Court Order recording this decision states : 'Investigations 
have shown that the daughter of the applicant was sentenced 
because she had made so-called defeatist statements, 
designed to undermine the fighting morale of the people/ 
These remarks, according to the notes of her defence counsel, 
formed the basis of the sentence designating her as a 'con- 
victed and recognised enemy of the state/ The verdict was 
confirmed in communications forwarded by the Public Prose- 
cutor to the People's Court and dated 21 November 1944, 
and 10 January 1945, respectively, the original texts of which 
may be found in the records of the chamber. 

It is also confirmed by the duplicate copies of two docu- 
ments of the President of the 5th Senate of the People's 
Court, dated 20 November 1944. These papers were attached 
84 



to the records of the court by the defence counsel, Dr Ernst 
Falck, together with a convincing supplementary statement 
in a letter dated 2 September 1952. 

It is thus quite clear that the decision of the former 
People's Court was made on purely political grounds. 



85 



ERNST HEILMANN 

13 April 1881-5 April 1940 

'THIS case is subject to the personal decision of the Reichs- 
fiihrer of the SS/ From 1933 till 1940, this was the inevitable 
answer to every effort to mitigate the fate of Ernst Heilmann 
as he lay in prison; with this reference to Heinrich Himmler's 
order, the Gestapo officials evaded all attempts to avert the 
unwritten death sentence which was finally executed in the 
seventh year of Heilmann's unparalleled martyrdom. 

Before 1933 Heilmann's Social Democrat friends jokingly 
called him the 'Uncrowned King of Prussia*. In 1924 they 
had elected him chairman of their party group in the Prussian 
Diet, of which he had been a member since 1919. This office, 
as spokesman and leader of the strongest party in the parlia- 
ment of the largest German Land, imposed on its bearer a 
large and truly royal measure of responsibility, risk and 
influence. Within the legal framework of a modern demo- 
cracy, Ernst Heilmann's work can be said to have played a 
large part in determining the fate of Prussia. 

Heilmann's constructive work, and his influence in the 
fruitful years of the coalition of Social Democrats, the 
Catholic Centre Party and the Democratic Party, was the 
central pillar on which rested the stability of the Prussian 
government under Braun and Severing, and indeed in the 
days of the so-called 'Little Weimar Coalition , 1924-32, 
when Heilmann steered the government through all difficul- 
ties and dangers. His success must be attributed to his friend- 
ship with the leader of the parliamentary group of the Centre 
Party, Dr Hess, to his great intelligence and to his remark- 
able political ability. 

Ernst Heilmann was the son of middle-class Jewish parents 
in Berlin. While he was still a student and before he passed 
his law examinations in 1903, he joined the Social Democratic 
Party. But in the Royal Prussia of those days, a political 
decision of this kind was a bar to the further government- 
controlled legal training which was necessary for the final 
examinations; so Heilmann had to sacrifice his chosen career 
for his political convictions. At first he became a stenographer 
86 




in Parliament, later a free lance journalist, and finally chief 
editor of the Chemnitzer Volksstimme. Later he also edited 
Social Democrat information bulletins and periodicals. In 
the second year of his war service he lost the sight of his 
right eye. 

After the first war Ernst Heilmann was one of the most 
energetic, and therefore to his totalitarian enemies one of the 
best hated, defenders of the young republic in parliament; 
he opposed all the revolutionary attempts of the communists: 



87 



H 



iii the parliamentary committee set up to investigate com- 
munist disturbance* in central Germany in 1921, in the 
M^siuns of the Prussian Diet .where he called them 'moles 
trained by Moscow to undermine democracy '), and in all 
organisations concerned with attacking the existence of the 
democratic state. 

The National Socialists found in Hermann's views on 
foreign affairs, which were based on understanding with 
former enemies, reason enough to consider him their arch- 
enemy; and this developed into unbounded hatred for the 
influential democratic politician of Jewish origin against 
whom they had to contend not only in the Prussian Diet, but 
also after '1928 in the Reichstag. In 1933, for all that, Heil- 
mann stayed in Berlin. He made this decision, at the risk of 
his life, in the conviction that he fought for the greatest cause 
in the world; and even after Parliament had been dissolved 
and a ban imposed on political parties, he did not want to 
leave Germany, although he knew quite well what the future 
held in store. Ernst Heilmann's journey through the famous 
Gestapo prison Columbiahaus, the Plotzensee Prison, the 
concentration camps of Oranienburg, Papenburg-Borger- 
moor, Dachau and Buchenwald was even more cruel than 
the fate of most of his friends and fellow victims; and, by its 
very duration, inflicted on him an ever greater despair. 

Walter Poller, author of the report A Doctor's Secretary 
at Buchenwald describes among other humiliations how an 
SS Officer named Roedl had trained bloodhounds to attack 
Heilmann to amuse his guests. The dogs mangled his arms 
and hands. Earlier, at Papenburg-Borgermoor, Heilmann had 
tried to end his life by pretending to escape and thereby 
inciting the guards to shoot, but they only shot him in the 
right leg, and what followed was worse than death. 

But for all the agony, even though he was disfigured almost 
past recognition, Heilmann still proudly acknowledged his 
past, by whispering almost imperceptibly 'And still I did 
what was right* 

He also retained his political judgment. Late in 1938 he 
told one of his fellow prisoners (the doctor s secretary at 
Buchenwald), "There will be war. You "Aryans" will still have 
a chance because they will need you. But they will kill all of 
us Jews', and during the first winter in the war he said: 
'Germany cannot win this war'. 
88 



In spring 1940 Ernst Heilmann lay in the camp mortuary, 
his body was enveloped in wrapping paper, but brave wit- 
nesses discovered that there was a fresh incision near the 
veins in the crook of his right arm. 

His wife and daughter were among the few who ever 
received permission to go to Buchemvald for a last farewell 
to their dead husband and father. An SS-Officer read in the 
presence of the widow a medical report of the illness which 
had, allegedly, led to Heilmann's death, and the report ended 
with the words *. . . consequently a clear case of weakness 
and old age*. 



89 



WILLI HAUSSLER 

IS April 190722 March 1945 

A YOLNG labourer from Hamburg represents thousands of 
honest opponents and victims of the Nazi regime. Willi 
Haussler was bom on 15 April 1907 in Hamburg, and one 
might almost say that he grew up in the Labour movement, 
through the influence of his family; he was a member of the 
Kinderfreunde and of the Arbeiterjugend before he joined 
the Reichsbanner Schicarz-Rot-Gold and the Social Demo- 
cratic Partx-, in 1923. He worked for the Hamburg Warehouse 
Company, but lost his job in the summer of 1933 because of 
his 'hostile attitude towards the state*. 

In the Reichsbanner, Willi Haussler belonged to the 10th 
Hamburg Defence Company (Bannbek); and in Barmbek 
the illegal work of the Hamburg Defence Companies started 
in 1933. Political friends in danger, from all parts of 
Germany, were helped across the borders; inscriptions 
appeared on the walls of houses, in particular the three 
arrows of the Eiserne Front, a symbol of the determination 
of the workers to fight the Nazi dictatorship; leaflets and 
handbills, calling for uncompromising and steadfast resist- 
ance to the system of slavery were passed from hand to hand. 
One of the handbills read: 

'We are not concerned with the elimination of a political 
party and the ambitious clique who lead them, much as they 
may deserve it; we are concerned with the fate of the whole 
German nation, which is once again in danger of being led 
into peril by its unscrupulous leaders. Our own future is at 
stake . . . The disappointed masses who long to turn away from 
Hitler will now find that a new political force is coming into 
existence.' 

In October 1934 the first wave of arrests hit the men of the 
Reichsbanner at Hamburg and about a hundred people in 
ten groups were sentenced by the courts; and when, soon 
afterwards, the new leaders of the resistance groups of the 
Reichsbanner were also arrested, Willi Haussler, without a 
moments hesitation, stepped into their place, 
90 




Frau Mimi Haussler has written the story: 

In summer we lived in a little shack in our allotment, outside 
the city. A few days before my husband was arrested (13 June 
1936) we went to our home in Pestalozzistrasse and were told 
by our neighbours that the Gestapo had been in our flat the 
night before. After this my husband tried to hide. 

The Gestapo came to me night after night to get me to tell 
them where they could find him. In fact, my husband had 
somehow managed to obtain all necessary documents and 
tickets so that he could escape to Denmark. But two hours 

91 



before his departure he was arrested. The Gestapo ordered me 
not to mention to anybody the fact of his arrest or the events 
that led to it. But I warned our friends, and some of them were 
able to escape. 

Our daughter was five years old when all this happened. 
Later, at school, the following statement appeared in her file : 
'Father detained for political reasons'. 

The state Welfare Organisation were prepared to grant 
financial aid to Frau Haussler only on condition that she 
divorced her husband, and so she was compelled to work for 
75 Pfennige per day. The Labour Office also turned her 
away when the Director of Personnel learned that her hus- 
band was detained on political grounds. Finally, she found a 
job as a shop assistant. 

Friends who tried to help the families of people who had 
been arrested were able for a time to put money under her 
door-mat; then the danger involved became too great, and 
this too became impossible. 

Arrest followed arrest; forty-five people were involved in 
the 'Haussler case' in court, and many of them did not live to 
see the end of those hard days, but the Nazis never really 
succeeded in destroying their solidarity. 

On 13 June 1938 Willi Haussler was sentenced to seven 
years' imprisonment. One year of the time he had been held 
pending investigations was to be deducted. He was 
imprisoned first in Hamburg-Fuhlsbiittel, and later at 
Bremen-Oslebshausen. 

He served his sentence, but he was not released. Instead, 
he was sent back to Fuhlsbiittel in 'protective custody*. From 
there he was transferred to the camp for foreigners at 
Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg. 

Frau Haussler writes : 

I was able to see my husband only very seldom. While he 
was in prison, only every four months. A permit was necessary 
for each visit Then I could talk to him for five minutes. In 
Fuhlsbiittel and in the camp at Wilhelmsburg I was however 
allowed to bring him dean clothes. Two weeks before his death 
I saw him for the last time. On recent visits I had secretly pro- 
vided him with money, some ration coupons, and identity 
papers which somebody had procured for me. Among the 
prisoners too it was no secret that the war was nearly over 
92 



and, should he hear any word of his liquidation', my husband 
intended to escape. 

The death certificate, which was sent to me, read: TCflled 
by enemy action at Wilhelmsburg Camp on 22 March 1945*. 
The body was, however, not released for burial, in spite of my 
application. 



93 



HEINRICH JASPER 

21 August 187519 February 1945 

ON 19 February 1945 Dr Heinrich Jasper was found dead in 
the grounds of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by one of 
Ms fellow prisoners. At nine o'clock the next morning his 
body was thrown on a funeral pyre to be burnt. The day 
before, he had been whipped by the notorious Commandant 
Kramer. A few months later, in Brunswick, there were many 
people who, for all the differences of opinion they had had 
with him in the past, were saying : If only Heinrich Jasper 
were here ! ' 

Who then was this man whose powers of leadership were 
so clearly recognised? 

He was born on 21 August 1875 at Dingelbe, not far from 
Brunswick, and was the son of well-to-do parents; he was a 
Doctor of Law at the age of twenty-five, practised as a solicitor 
and, three years later, became a Social Democrat member of 
the municipal council; after the last elections before the first 
world war (still under the Dreiklassenwahlrecht], he became 
a member of the Landtag of the Duchy of Brunswick. 

True to his political convictions, Dr Jasper served as a 
private throughout the 1914-18 war. In 1918 the government 
of the Duchy of Brunswick, faced with administrative chaos, 
asked him to return, and in 1919 he was elected President of 
the Landtag by unanimous vote. He was also a member of 
the National Assembly at Weimar. From the end of the war 
until 1921 and again from 1922-24 and from 1927-30, he led 
the Brunswick State Government. 

In a speech dedicated to the memory of Heinrich Jasper, 
Prof. Dr von Frankenberg said of him : 

His unselfishness knew no bounds. Whoever knew him well 
knows how strict he was with himself, how unyielding was his 
sense of duty, how modest his way of life, almost to the point 
of absurdity. The simplicity of his clothing was proverbial, and 
he even refused to use a car and went about his official 
business by tram and train; for all that, he gave generously 
and freely if ever he saw a friend in need, and no-one will ever 
know how many people he helped in private. . . . 
94 




The election of 5 September 1930 brought to Brunswick a 
tragic distinction, for it became the second German Land to 
have a National Socialist Minister in its government : and 
with the coming of Dietrich Klagges, all hell was let loose. 
The so-called Machtubernahme (assumption of power) when 
the Nazis came in, was, for Heinrich Jasper and for hundreds 
of people who thought and felt as he did, the beginning of 
fearful suffering and sorrow. 

Dr Jasper was arrested in the street and taken to the 
Volksfreund building and there, like so many others, terribly 
maltreated. At first nobody knew where he was, and Klagges 



refused to answer questions: in fact, Jasper had been so 
horribly beaten up that his face was hardly recognisable; in 
the evening he had collapsed, and the next day slowly 
regained consciousness and heard the clocks strike twelve. 
For all that time he had lain in the dirt in his own blood. 

At pistol point, he was forced to clear up the mess. He was 
then taken to another room and asked whether he knew how 
to use firearms : 

Tfes, of course/ 

'Well then, we don't want to find you alive when we come 
back, otherwise we'll see to it ourselves/ Jasper quite calmly 
replied : *You can wait as long as you like, but that is a favour 
which I shall not grant you/ 

That afternoon he was handed over to the county prison 
near the Rennelberg; but a few weeks later he was suddenly 
released. His political friends then begged him to emigrate 
at once, but this was something he would not do. Soon after- 
wards he was arrested for the second time. 

After two years of solitary confinement, Jasper was taken 
to Dachau, and later to Oranienburg. He was kept there for 
nearly five years and meanwhile Klagges managed to keep 
at bay all attempts to have him released. 

But finally, in 1939, he was released. He was not allowed 
to resume his practice as a solicitor, and the Gestapo had 
taken over the library which he had collected with so much 
care and love, and only a few kw books were left. But 
Heimich Jasper's mind did not rest, and one could see him 
in those days in the Brunswick State Library, bending low 
over old records and documents, passionately absorbed in 
some scholarly work. 

When the end was in sight, in 1943 and 1944, many people 
saw in Heinrich Jasper one of their hopes for the reconstruc- 
tion of Germany. But this did not escape the men in power, 
who saw to it that he too was swept away in the great wave 
of arrests that followed 20 July 1944. 

On 22 August, the day after his birthday, Jasper was 
hauled from his bed and taken to Camp 21, near Hallendorf; 
and from there he trod his weary way back to Oranienburg, 
and finally on 4 February 1945 on to Bergen-Belsen. A fort- 
night later the flames of the funeral pyre completed the story. 



96 



HANS SCHIFTAN 

8 December 18993 November 1941 



Office of the 

Secret State Police 

-IVC2-H.-Nr.Scfc.9788- 



BerUn SW 11 

Prinz Mbrecht Strasse 8 

22 May 1941 



Order of Protective Custody 

Surname, Christian name: Schiftan, Hans 
Date and Place of Birth: 8 December 1899, Schoneberg 
Profession: Clerk 
Marital Status: Married 
Citizenship: German 
Religious Denomination: None 
Race: (to be mentioned in cases of Non-Aryans) 
Place of Residence: Berlin Neukolln, Zietenstrasse 27 
is taken into protective custory. 
Reasons: 

Information obtained by the State Police reveals that his con- 
duct is such as to constitute a danger to the nation and to 




public security, because his political record leads to the belief 
that he would, after serving a two-year sentence for plotting 
high treason, again take part in activities of a Marxist character. 

Signed: HEYDBICH Witnessed: ROTTAN 

HANS SCHIFTAN married at the age of 26, while he was 
working in a radio business, for thanks to hard work and his 
own ability he had already achieved independence and a 
middle-class standard of living. His youngest daughter has 
described his fate : 

We had a happy family life, gay and carefree. There were 
for instance expeditions in paddle-boats with a huge and 
ancient tent, the beginning, for us three children, of long weeks 
of delight 

But all this stopped with a bang when my father was arrested. 
I was only ten years old at the time, and for me it was all rather 
incomprehensible, meaningless and painful. But gradually I 
began to fit the pieces together and to understand things which, 
at that age and at that time, I should never normally have 
taken in. 

My father was a member of the German Social Democratic 
Party. His personal ties to the party were strong, and he was 
above all aware of his responsibilities and obligations to his 
friends. After 1933 he kept in touch with party friends who had 
emigrated to Czechoslovakia; there were secret visits which I 
was not to mention to anybody, and he was in fact the key-man 
of an underground group on this side of the frontier. 

When Hitler marched into Czechoslovakia in 1939, most of 
my father s friends were arrested, and his own arrest followed 
on 13 April 1939. In the legal proceedings that followed he was 
sentenced to two years' imprisonment for plotting high treason. 
During those years, and indeed in the years to come, my mother 
(although suffering from a disease of the kidneys), looked after 
us with incredible energy, courage and love. Then, on 20 April 
1941, a telegram came : 'Arriving 8.37 p.m. at Lehrter Station 
Father'. 

For this last meeting with my father I have to thank a tech- 
nical blunder on the part of the Gestapo. Having completed his 
sentence, my father was sent home. The order for protective 
custod/ by which he was to have been transferred to a concen- 
tration camp, as soon as his term of imprisonment was over, 
had arrived too late, probably because of the birthday cele- 
brations for the Fuhrer which took place that day; and my 
father was already on his way home. He was with us from 



Sunday night until Tuesday morning. On Monday he took me 
to school, because I found it so hard to go at all now that he 
was home at last. On Tuesday my mother could no longer stay 
away from work, so my father and I were alone together until 
he went to report to police headquarters in the Alexanderplatz, 
as he had been told to do. He did not want to go, although he 
had no premonition of what was in store for him. He would 
not allow me to wave good-bye from the window, because he 
was afraid I might fall out in my excitement. So I watched 
him secretly until he disappeared round the corner. At Police 
Headquarters he was immediately arrested again. That was on 
22 April 1941. 

A month later Hans Schiftan was sent to the Mauthausen 
Concentration Camp. On 10 November 1941 his family 
received a notice from the camp authorities saying that he 
had died from septicaemia on 3 November 1941 in the local 
hospital'. 



JOHANNA KIRCHNER 

24 April 18899 June 1944 

JOHANNA KIRCHNER'S life had been ruled by her 
readiness to help other people and to stand up for her ideals. 
Her daughter tells her story : 

She was born on 24 April 1889, and came from an old Social 
Democrat family in Frankfurt-am-Main. From the age of 14 
she belonged to the Socialist Labour Youth Organisation; and 
so from her youth she was bound to the Social Democrat move- 
ment, by tradition and experience, and these ties grew all the 
stronger when she married Karl Kirchner, a Social Democrat 
expert on local government who was much respected in 
Frankfurt. My mother worked at his side as press officer at 
party and trade union congresses, in party headquarters and, 
with particular devotion, for the 'Labour Welfare Organisa- 
tion*. She organised a mutual-aid plan under which Frankfurt 
families looked after the children of workers who were locked 
out during the Ruhr strike, and she was deeply involved in the 
scheme for sending German children to Switzerland during the 
inflation. 

When the Nazis came to power in 1933 my mother continued 
with undaunted energy to work for her ideals. She was never 
tired of helping people who were arrested, and continually 
devised new ways and means of escape. At one point in her 
efforts to secure the release of Carlo Mierendorff from Gestapo 
hands, she had to go to Geneva. Then it became dear that she 
herself could no longer stay in Frankfurt, and she decided to 
emigrate to avoid arrest. 

Until January 1935, she lived in the Saar, where she took 
part in the preparations for the plebiscite, but she then had to 
take flight again. She wanted to stay as near as possible to her 
beloved Germany, and therefore settled in Forbach, in France, 
where she stayed until the war broke out, in very close touch 
with the German resistance movement and its struggle against 
Hitler. She helped in relief work among German emigrants and 
German volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, and in work for 
the 'underground' in Germany. TDie Hanna', as she was called, 
became a symbol of refuge. 

After the outbreak of war she was arrested by the French 
Government and interned in a French camp. Members of the 
French resistance eventually succeeded in freeing her from 
100 




the camp at Gurs, but freedom did not last long, for after the 
occupation of France the Vichy regime complied with a 
demand from the Hitler government for her extradition. In this 
she shared the fate of Rudolf Hilferding, a former German 
Minister of Finance, and of Rudolf Breitscheid, a former mem- 
ber of the Reichstag, who had always worked for Franco- 
German understanding, and of many others who held the same 
convictions. 

On 9 June 1942, the ordeal began which led her through 
the inferno of Gestapo interrogations, and in May 1943 the 
People's Court sentenced her to ten years' imprisonment. But 
at Cottbus prison, where she spent one year of her sentence, 

101 



she partly recovered from her experiences with the Gestapo, 
thanks to the care and friendship of her fellow prisoners, and 
in spite of her imprisonment, regained hope and happiness. 

Early in 1944, the proceedings against Johanna Kirchner were 
re-opened and on 20 April 1944, the Court, with the notorious 
Freisler as Presiding Judge, sentenced her to death after a 
30 minutes' session. 

She received her sentence calmly and with courage, and 
spent her last days quietly, confident that the rule of terror 
would soon end. Her last letter was strong and brave : 

'We have to part now. My love and my blessings will always 
be with you and I shall set out on my last journey without fear 
or despair. My last wish is that you too will be brave and 
undismayed. Don't let yourself be overcome by grief, remember 
the words of Goethe : "Stirb und werde". 

'Always hold together in love and friendship; it is a great 
comfort to me to know that you are united. Thank you for all 
you have done for me, I know that circumstances were stronger 
than your love. Please, please do not mourn and weep for 
me ... Your love and braveness are my great consolation in 
my last hours. 

'May peace soon unite you in happines ... be happy and be 
brave, the future will be better . . / 

Pastor Buchholz who saw my mother shortly before her 
death, wrote that she had met her cruel fate with rare self- 
control and calm, and had kept her dignity and her composure 
until the very end, setting an example to us all and revealing 
to the full the strength and maturity of her personality and 
the greatness of her soul. 

Johanna Kirchner was executed at Berlin Plotzensee Prison 
on 9 June 1944. 



102 



WILHELM LEUSCHNER 

15 June 188829 September 1944 

WILHELM LEUSCHNER grew up at Bayreutli and became 
an engraver. At the age 17 he went to Darmstadt, where he 
soon proved himself in the trade union movement. He was a 




Photograph taken to the Peoples Court 
103 



member of the Municipal Council of Darmstadt for many 
years and of the Landtag of Hessen. He became Minister of 
the Interior for Hessen in 1929 and Deputy Chairman of the 
German Trade Unions Association in 1932. 

The National Socialists will use slander, insult and accusa- 
tion in their election campaign, but never serious discussion. 
We demand of our leaders and national representatives greater 
truthfulness, better morals, and higher intelligence than do 
the Nazis or the Communists. 

'Our fight is directed just as much against Communists as 
against National Socialists, because if they did not split the 
vote, National Socialism could not play the part it is now 
playing in Germany. We want to reunite all the workers in one 
party. Thus we fight against Fascism and against Communism; 
and for a strong parliament in the Land of Hesse, and a strong 
social democracy/ 

These were the final words of Wilhelm Leuschner's speech 
before the Landtag elections in Hesse on 30 May 1932. 

A year later he found himself in the hands of the SA, after 
the National Socialists arrested him in the trade union head- 
quarters in the course of their occupation of trade union 
centres. Before they left the headquarters, Robert Ley, under 
cover of an SA Order, questioned every one of those arrested 
and gave orders as to what should be done with them. Bruno 
Gleitze, who was arrested with Leuschner and detained in 
the cellar of the Anti-War Museum in the Parochialstrasse 
in Berlin, described how Leuschner was subjected for several 
days and nights to the brutalities of the SA, and was then 
transferred to a cell in the block next to the executioner's 
building at Plotzensee Prison. Quite surprisingly, he was 
released again and forced to go with Robert Ley to Geneva 
to attend the International Labour Conference, thus giving 
some credence to the claim of the German Workers' Front' 
to a seat at the conference. 

Leuschner did not speak in the Assembly. The General 
Secretary of the International Confederation of Trade 
Unions, I. H. Oldenbroek, and the Secretary of the European 
Regional Organisation, W. Schevenels, still remember how 
deeply the delegates were impressed by this T>rave silence', 
and needless to say, in the discussions which followed the 
meetings, he left no doubt that he had never changed his 
views. 
104 



On his return to Germany, Leuschner knew that the 
Gestapo would be waiting for him at the frontier; and two 
years in concentration camps were the punishment for the 
opinions he had expressed in Geneva. 

After his release Leuschner succeeded in taking over the 
management of a factory in Berlin. Here he employed almost 
exclusively political friends from the trade union movement; 
and he used the opportunities offered by extensive business 
trips to make contact with old friends and other opponents 
of the regime, and to prepare a network of resistance groups 
to cover the whole of Germany. 

On 20 August 1939 he wrote to a friend abroad : 1 am 
afraid there will be war this autumn and that it will last for 
years. France and Britain have only recently begun to 
prepare themselves for it. Tell our friends there, particularly 
Walter Citrine (then General Secretary of the British Trades 
Union Council), that we still think as we did before. But we 
are quite unable to prevent this disaster: we are the inmates 
of a huge prison. To rebel would be suicide, just as surely as 
it is suicide for prisoners to revolt against their heavily armed 
guards/ 

During the war Leuschner concentrated on preparations 
for the tasks of 'the day after , and in this he worked with all 
the trade union groups and with representatives of the 
different political views of the past. He co-operated with 
Beck in tie plan to overthrow the government before the 
catastrophe had reached its height, and helped Goerdeler in 
preparations for an interim government which would follow 
the overthrow of Hitler, and in which he himself was to 
become Vice-Chancellor. 

Professor Dr Ludwig Bergstrasser has described meetings 
with Leuschner at the time : 

When I visited him in Berlin I was surprised at how well 
informed he was, and equally surprised to note the intelligence, 
calmness and objectivity with which he followed developments 
and drew his conclusions. During the war he saw clearly how 
far the situation had worsened, and he knew that the war would 
mean the end of Hitler's dictatorship and that this end ought 
to come soon to avoid unspeakable suffering. 

In these reflections he rose above the level of narrow party 
opinion if he had not done so long before. Indeed he felt 
strongly the need to do so, just as he felt the need to unite 

105 



all the workers so that the situation in which there were too 
many trade unions, with too many divergent aims, would not 
arise once more after the collapse of the Hitler Government. 
'Although he himself had found his place and career in the 
Social Democrat Party, he was convinced that now the disaster 
of dictatorship had fallen on Germany, all men of goodwill 
who would fight for freedom, honesty and justice must work 
together/ 

Until the very end Leuschner worked with friends who 
shared his views to solve the detailed problems of a new 
order in society which could be created neither "by the 
recipes of a bygone age nor by reviving democracy as it had 
been after 1918'. 

He was particularly concerned with German youth. Just 
before 20 July, when the organisation of a future Labour 
Youth Organisation was being discussed, Leuschner insisted 
that the educational standard should be improved, that 
vocational training should be extended and that the main 
task should be to 'educate German youth to be first-class 
human beings'. 

It was certainly not by chance that one of the people who 
worked in Leuschner's factory in Berlin was Hermann 
Maass, who had come from the youth movement and had 
been secretary of the Association of German Youth Move- 
ments until 1933. He too had to pay the final penalty, and so 
did another close friend of Leuschner's, Ludwig Schwamb, a 
former Councillor of State and an untiring and devoted 
negotiator. 

Wilhelm Leuschner was a man with a strong instinct for 
the essential, and his great aim was to unite all sympathetic 
forces for the next step. On his way out to the gallows on 
29 September 1944 he made one sign to his friends, a sign 
that meant: Unity. 



106 



BERNHARD LETTERHAUS 



10 July 189414 November 1944 

BERNHARD LETTERHAUS served his industrial appren- 
ticeship in the Rhineland and later attended the Prussian 
College for Textile workers. He served in the 1914-18 war and 
was awarded the Iron Cross (1st Class). He was severely 




Photograph taken in the People's Court 

107 



wounded towards the end of the war and recovered very 
slowly; he made use of this time to continue his education. 

During the 1914-18 war, Bernhard Letterhaus decided to 
devote himself to the Catholic Labour Organisation. In a 
letter dated 4 August 1940 he writes about this decision : 

'Profession and calling are interrelated concepts. I was called 
to what I have done in the past and I shall be called to what I 
have to do in the future. By whom? Christians know their 
answer : by God. In the last war my heart heard His voice and 
I followed it, and therefore I have no right to be cast down if 
my way leads me through shadows. I should lose the struggle 
only if I did not follow His voice/ 

Letterhaus worked for the Association of Christian Textile 
Workers from 1921 to 1927 and later found in the Catholic 
Workers' Associations a field of activity which strongly 
appealed to him. As secretary of the Council of West German 
Workers' Associations he had scope not only for administra- 
tion, but for educational work. He was much admired as a 
teacher of economics, sociology and statistics. He was a 
gifted speaker. Heinrich Briining, a former Reichs Chan- 
cellor who had been a close friend of Bernhard Letterhaus 
for many years, wrote in a letter to Frau Letterhaus on 15 
August 1946 : 

'I know of nobody who had so many positive qualities as 
your husband; the ability calmly to consider the facts of a case 
or to decide quickly if necessary; a clear and definite judgment 
of other people, accompanied by great kindness; a rare political 
instinct; the patience to wait without being stung into some 
useless activity; courage in danger and a passion for justice, 
honesty and order in his beloved country. Against all intrigues 
and incapable of indulging in them himself, he was also quick 
to recognise them before they became effective, and knew how 
to fight them calmly and surely when they first appeared/ 

Bernhard Letterhaus was appointed by the Centre Party 
first to the Landtag of the Rhineland and then, in 1928, to 
the Landtag of Prussia, and he soon saw the danger of 
Hitler. At this time he said : 

'Should this demagogue ever succeed in becoming leader of 
Germany, that would be the beginning of the end, there would 
108 



certainly be a war as well. We must stem this tide by every 
means in our power/ 

In 1931 as Vice-President of the Catholic Rally in Minister 
he spoke almost prophetically of the difficulties to come, and 
after 1933 he and his friends worked incessantly to foster 
resistance among members of the Catholic Church. Frequent 
trips abroad enabled him to keep in touch with representa- 
tives of the international labour movement. But these 
journeys did not pass unnoticed by the Gestapo, and the 
result was endless interrogation. 

When Letterhaus was called up for active service in 1939 
he used his position in the Wehrmacht High Command, 
where he was a Captain in the Defence Department, to 
strengthen the resistance forces by giving them information, 
his views on the situation, and by using his connections for 
their purposes. Soon he was working with leaders of the 
resistance movement, and was considered for a post in the 
new government. 

Bernhard Letterhaus was arrested immediately after the 
plot of 20 July 1944. After that he had no news from his wife 
and child. He spent the last months of his life helping some 
of his friends with whom he had fought and suffered. Undis- 
mayed and fearless, a deeply convinced Catholic, he was 
sentenced to death in the People's Court on 13 November 
1944. The next day he and two Catholic friends were hanged. 

Franz Leuninger, a former General Secretary of the 
Christian Metal Workers' Union, was also executed shortly 
before the end of the war. Heinrich Korner, another colleague 
and the former Secretary of the Christian Trade Unions, was 
shot in front of Plotzensee Prison on 25 April 1945. With the 
help of these men, Jacob Kaiser, later to become a Minister 
in the Federal Republic, had brought about the union with 
the Social Democratic trade union leaders. Max Habermann 
of the Deutschnationaler Handlungsgehilfenverband was 
also a member of the group. After 20 July 1944 Max 
Habermann was hidden by friends, but was discovered and 
arrested on 30 October 1944. In prison, Habermann com- 
mitted suicide because he 'did not want to give away those 
who had given him asylum'. 



109 



4 THE STATE AND 
THE LAW 

THE burning of the Reichstag, four weeks after the National 
Socialists came to power, was their first major act of violence. 
It was represented as a Communist plot, in an attempt to 
rally the people to the new rulers by producing a common 
enemy; and it was used as a pretext for the persecution of 
large numbers of leading citizens. The Chief of the Berlin 
Fire Brigade was the first of the experts to question the 
theory of Communist arson. He was retired from his post at 
short notice and later 'removed' as a troublesome witness. 
There were many similar cases. 

The National Socialists' concern to preserve the legal 
fagade, to transform democracy into dictatorship by osten- 
sibly lawful means, was evident with each move. New laws 
were made as and when necessary, bogus democratic resolu- 
tions were produced, national crises were staged and 
exploited, always in a manner calculated to show that the 
law was on the side of the authorities. Thus the 'Enabling Act' 
was wrested from the Reichstag against the background of a 
wave of terror: the debating chamber was filled and 
surrounded by SS and SA units and Hitler was prepared to 
have as many deputies arrested as was necessary to ensure 
the two-thirds majority. Soon after this the 'Law concerning 
the Re-instatement of the Professionally-trained Civil Ser- 
vice' was applied to secure the dismissal of all politically 
tiresome or non-aryan civil servants who, in view of their 
previous political activities, do not appear to be strong 
supporters of the National Socialist state . As time went on, 
politicians who were not Nazis lost all influence and even the 
'Enabling Act', though it delegated almost unlimited power to 
Hitler, was overstepped and, like the Weimar Constitution, 
sank into oblivion. 

There remained the President of Germany, the highest 
authority, constitutionally elected, who stood between the 
nation and extreme arbitrary power. But he was old and ill 
and had retired to his estate in East Prussia. He was cut off 
110 



from political life and surrounded by devoted servants of the 
Fuhrer. At first, his very existence was an asset to the Third 
Reich, but he soon ceased to count. By the time he died, in 
1934, the mass arrests and the arbitrary shootings had made 
it plain to everyone that the law had become Hitler's tool 
and plaything. The abuse of the law continued, and the 
climax came when members of the armed services and civil 
servants were ordered to swear the Oath of Allegiance to 
Hitler : this oath, taking the name of the Lord in vain, put 
them in the position where they were technically breaking 
the law each time they opposed Hitler or his policies, and 
was as wicked as it was unconstitutional. The figure of the 
raging Freisler, the Nazi judge who finally presided over the 
highest court in Germany, became the incarnation of the 
lawless state. 

Many people, either voluntarily or under duress, accepted 
the new order. But there were others who did not, who 
deplored the growing confusion between tyranny and justice 
and for whom conscience, and not the law, became the deter- 
mining factor. Most of them did not find it easy to take the 
law into their own hands, but they died in the conviction 
that Hitler, by subjecting the law to the state, had shaken to 
its foundations the common life of the people. 



Ill 



WALTER GEMPP 

13 September 18782 May 1939 

AFTER his matriculation Walter Gempp studied mechanical 
and electrical engineering at the Technische Hoclischule in 
Karlsruhe (Baden) and also had some practical engineering 
experience. He obtained his diploma and then worked 
for three years as a designer with Siemens-Schuckert in 
Berlin. In 1906 he was entrusted with the expansion of the 
Berlin Fire Brigade and was in particular concerned with the 
experimental branch of the mobile detachment. The first 
motorised unit was put into service in 1908, in the station in 
the Schonlanker Strasse, and by 1914 there were eleven 
more motorised fire brigade units of the same type. Gempp 
was later promoted to Technical Director and in 1923 was 
appointed Chief of the Berlin Fire Service. In this capacity 
he further contributed to the expansion and general organisa- 
tion of the Berlin Fire Brigade and to the spirit of co- 
operation within its ranks. 

With the burning of the Reichstag on 27 February 1933, 
Gempp, who had a high reputation both in Germany and 
abroad and was respected as an excellent engineer and a 
loyal civil servant, was confronted with a situation which 
was to prove decisive for his life and work. For well over a 
quarter of a century he had been working to perfect the 
instrument which on that notable occasion so ably stood the 
test. But this fire was more than a technical problem. It was 
a political event. The circumstances of the alarm, the manner 
of the immediate enquiries and above all the subsequent 
political persecutions which were launched all over Germany, 
only a few days before the Reichstag elections of 5 March, 
made this clear. And Gempp was not only a technical expert 
and an able civil servant, he was also a man of conscience 
and integrity. All this led him, at a meeting of the fire 
brigade inspectors and officers, to correct the official reports. 
He stated that the Fire Brigade had been warned too late 
and had met Storm Troopers at the scene of the fire; and 
moreover that the acting Minister of the Interior, Goring, 
had at first expressly forbidden him either to call in all 
112 



available help or to make full use of the firemen at his 
disposal; and finally that enough fire-raising material to fill 
a lorry had been found in the undamaged rooms of the. 
closely cordoned building; facts which aU went to disprove 
the theory of communist arson. Thus Gempp became a 
troublesome witness of the terrorist tactics used by the 
National Socialists, for whom the burning of the Reichstag 
was only a prelude to the suppression and removal of all their 
political enemies. 




Photo from Ulktetn Archives 



Four weeks later, Walter Gempp fell victim to the purge 
which was carried through under cover of a so-called reform 
of the civil service. Although Hindenburg, the President of 
Germany, had repeatedly acknowledged his confidence in 
him and even Hitler, shortly before the incident, had 
expressed his particular thanks and warm appreciation for 
his 'conscientious leadership*, Gempp, a member of the 
Democratic Party, was now accused of 'marxist and com- 
munist subversive and inflammatory activities' and of passing 
over 'national-minded Fire Service officials'. 

There was great consternation. The Vossische Zeitung 
wrote on 25 March 1933 : 

113 



The motives of the State Commissioner in suspending the 
invaluable Chief of the Berlin Fire Brigade, who has been in 
the service of the city for 27 years, are not known. What is well 
known is the fact that Gempp, who is 55, has made the Berlin 
Fire Brigade the protector of the Berlin people. Thousands of 
foreigners have studied the Berlin fire system with envy and 
have recognised and appreciated his work . . ." 

Gempp repeated his statements during the Reichstag Trial, 
which lasted from September to December 1933. 

But even his final discharge did not satisfy the new 
dictators, and there followed defamation of the worst kind, 
cross examinations and arrest. Finally, in September 1937, 
he was again committed for trial. Carefully planned 
proceedings accusing him of so-called official malpractice 
resulted in his conviction, against which, with the support of 
outside lawyers, he appealed. On 2 May 1939, shortly before 
the beginning of the new trial, Walter Gempp was found 
dead in his cell. He had been strangled. 



114 



MARTIN GAUGER 

4 August 190514 July 1941 

MARTIN GAUGER, fourth son in the large family of a parson 
in Wuppertal, was unusually gifted, Ml of vitality, critical 
and fully aware of the problems of his day. Even as a student 
he was moved and worried by the social cleavages in 
Germany; in his own immediate circle in the Boberhaus he 
tried to do something about the problem by organising the 
first voluntary labour camps where workers and students (of 
Professor Rosenstock of Breslau) worked together. From this 
there developed his friendship with the Kreisau circle, 
particularly with Helmuth von Moltke and Carl Dietrich von 
Trotha. It was there that he found the courage to believe in 
himself and came to the conclusion that every man can 
fashion his own life and that each must exert his influence in 
public affairs. He studied political economy and law and also 
spent some time at the London School of Economics, finally 
emerging with a Diploma in Political Economy, success in 
his law finals and the degree of Doctor of Law. 

In 1934 he became an assessor in the office of the public 
prosecutor in Miinchen-Gladbach. With his gifts, his educa- 
tion, his humour and his ability to get on well with people, 
his future looked promising. But he saw clearly what was 
going on around him. He witnessed the unjust removal of his 
father from his post (as an editor) and the imprisonment 
which followed, and he suffered under the increasing law- 
lessness of the Nazi dictatorship. The official explanation 
given by the Minister of Justice after the murders on 30 June 
1934 deeply horrified him, and he thereupon refused to 
submit to the demand that all officials should swear an Oath 
of Allegiance to Hitler. As a lawyer he realised the full 
implications of the oath, and his conscience forbade him to 
take it. 

For this reason he left the civil service. Sometime later 
he became legal adviser with the provisional administra- 
tion of the German Protestant Church and then with the 
Lutheran Council in Berlin. Here, guided by Christian 
ethics, he learnt where his task lay; and with no thought 

115 



for his own life did what was humanly possible to help 
members of the clergy in their struggle with the authorities. 
His greatest joy was the release of seven pastors from Liibeck 
from a concentration camp, which was largely his own 

doing. 

In his opposition to the Nazi regime he was above all con- 
cerned to protect die Church and to enable it to survive the 
Third Reich. He devoted his energy to this arduous task, 
although he fully realised that we are regarded by the 
authorities as enemies of the state. That leaves us undis- 
mayed, because we have a clear conscience and good grounds 
for believing that it is we who are in fact the patriots/ 

Martin Gauger wrote these words in a letter in 1938. In 
the same year he turned down the offer of a professorship at 
the Christian College of Madras, India, explaining : 'So long 
as it is possible for me to work at all, I cannot run away from 
my post here/ 

As well as numerous articles in the Protestant weekly, 
Licht und Leben, and in the Gotthard-letters, he wrote in the 
years before the war Notes on the Rights of the Protestant 
Press in Germany and the pamphlets, Confession and Church 
Policy (Wuppertal, 1936). Both books were immediately con- 
fiscated by the Gestapo. When the war began, Gauger was 
offered a job with the Red Cross in Geneva. But, true to his 
own work, he again refused. Then in April 1940 he was called 
up. At this time he wrote : 

Tor a time I thought I could bear this war if I did not have 
to serve as a soldier myself, but that is taking a very false and 
narrow view, and a view that is essentially cowardly. I now 
believe that one should not serve in the war at all, certainly not 
in this war, because it is not a defensive war ... for a time I 
thought the answer was a job on the supply side, when at least 
I would not have to serve at the front. But then I asked myself: 
Why? Is there any difference between actually fighting and 
equipping and supplying those who are fighting? No. There's 
no difference at all. And I cannot and will not support this war 
or help to spread this sea of blood and tears to other countries. 

This was his answer when friends tried to give him a way 
out by offering him an administrative job. He still felt unable 
to take the Oath of Allegiance to Hitler, but his refusal 
endangered his work, his family and himself. 
116 




Gauger finally decided to flee to Holland and early in May 
1940 he swam across the icy waters of the Rhine. But soon 
after he crossed the frontier into neutral territory, Hitler's 
SS troops marched in. Gauger was seriously wounded and 
then captured, and after passing through several prisons 
ended up in the civil jail in Diisseldorf . There he spent one 
year, while his case was investigated by the Gestapo. In 

117 



June 1941 he was transferred to Buchenwald concentration 
camp. One night when he and ninety other prisoners were 
taken away under special security precautions, he knew that 
his end had come. 



118 



HANS von DOHNANYI 

1 January 19028 April 1945 

INSTIGATOR and guiding spirit of the movement to 
eliminate the Fuhref : thus the Gestapo described Dohnanyi 
after the investigation into the events of 20 July 1944 had 
revealed the part he had played for many years in the plans 
to overthrow the Hitler regime. 

After his arrest the Gestapo took special precautions, of 
which there is evidence in the memoirs of Harald Poelchau : 

'It must have been in July or August 1944. 1 had taken over 
temporary duties at the Military Prison Hospital at Buch, and 
enquired which of the prisoners had registered for visits by 
the Chaplain of the garrison. A number of names were men- 
tioned and then, with slight hesitation, they said : 

"A Colonel Z has also registered." 

"Colonel Z? Who is that?" 

"We don't know either." 

'When I was alone with Colonel Z and introduced myself, he 
said : "I know about you, I am Dohnanyi." 

'Physically, he was suffering, but he was quite composed, a 
man of strength and personality for whom I could do very 
little.' 

Dohnanyi was born on 1 January 1902 in Vienna and grew 
up in close contact with the Bonhoeffer, Delbriick and 
Harnack families. After he had taken his law examinations in 
1929 he obtained a post in the Reich Ministry of Justice, 
worked in the Departments of International, Constitutional 
and Administrative Law, which also dealt with questions of 
High Treason, and was later private secretary to several 
Ministers of Justice. This position gave him an early insight 
into the true character of National Socialism. Already under 
Bribing, whom he had got to know while attending cabinet 
meetings as a young legal adviser, he argued that the 
nationalist radicals should be strictly forbidden to wear 
uniform. 

After the Reichstag fire Dohnanyi tried to organise a 
public inquiry by the German judges into the growing rule 

119 



of terror. But his appeal to the President of the Supreme 
Court of the Reich met with no success. In discussions with 
Reich Minister of Justice, Gurtner, in particular on the 
occasion of the Reiclistag fire, Dohnanyi left no doubt as to 
his views. In spite of this he became head of the Minister's 
private office and thus saw even more of the working of the 
government machinery, and made many important contacts. 
He constantly used his connections with people in public 
life to work for the protection of the persecuted, but he 
realised after many useless onslaughts at the highest level, 
the futility of all legal protests against the system of con- 
centration camps. And so he decided on active resistance. 

As early as 1933, Dohnanyi began to keep a secret record 
of crimes committed by the Nazi regime and of those who 
were responsible for diem. The material for this record, 
which was to be used and published when the day of reckon- 
ing with Hitler s dictatorship arrived, came from the secret 
files of the Ministry of Justice. 

Soon Dohnanyi became the pivot of various civilian resist- 
ance groups. By reason of his position in Giirtner's office he 
was always well informed on what went on in government 
circles, and he came into close touch with Popitz and 
Goerdeler. The unwavering courage with which he faced the 
powerful party leaders also enabled him for five years to 
scotch the constant intrigues of Freisler, at that time 
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, even though 
he was not a member of the Rechtswahrerbund ('The Asso- 
ciation of the Guardians of Justice', a Nazi organisation for 
members of the legal profession). During the trial of General 
Fritsch, Dohnanyi got to know Beck and Oster, who held a 
key position under Canaris in the Military Intelligence 
Service. This friendship was of vital importance in all sub- 
sequent planning. 

Dohnanyf s position, in view of the fact that he was not 
a National Socialist, was soon 'not acceptable', and Gurtner, 
under pressure from Freisler and Bormann was finally forced 
to post him as Reichsgerichtsrat to the Supreme Court at 
Leipzig. But Dohnanyi managed to continue weaving his 
web, even after a plot against Hitler had failed in 1938, 
because his duties frequently took him to Berlin. When war 
broke out Beck saw to it that Dohnanyi went to Canaris' 
staff in Military Intelligence, and there he worked in Oster's 
120 




department as head of the Office of Political Affairs. The plan 
to end the war during the winter of 1939-40 was largely the 
result of his illegal work in the Military Intelligence Service; 
as intermediary between Beck and Leuschner he helped to 
synchronise resistance activities, and no less important were 

121 



the negotiations with the Vatican which he opened through 
Josef Muller. Their result a clear offer of peace was sub- 
mitted to the leading generals, before the victorious French 
campaign wrecked the project. But Dohnanyi continued his 
effort. In March 1943 he flew to the headquarters of the 
Middle Army Group on the eastern front to co-ordinate the 
plans for Hitler's assassination worked out by Tresckow and 
Schlabrendorff with the political preparations in Berlin; but 
this plan also went awry when the bomb in Hitler's plane 
failed to explode. 

On 5 April 1943 Dohnanyi, Josef Muller and Dietrich 
Bonhoeffer were arrested, quite unexpectedly. One of their 
agents had indulged in irregular currency transactions and 
so drawn attention to Oster's staff; and this at last gave 
Himmler's Security Service the pretext to intervene in the 
affairs of the otherwise independent Military Intelligence 
Service. Persistent questioning, to which Dohnanyi was then 
subjected, completely failed to produce any conclusive 
evidence of the suspected resistance activities in the Military 
Intelligence Service; but one of the main centres of the con- 
spirators had been destroyed. 

After 20 July 1944 Dohnanyf s past role could no longer 
be disguised, but with all his legal experience he was able to 
put up a steadfast and skilful defence which defeated all 
attempts of the Gestapo to prove his guilt, although they left 
no stone unturned. TTiere were therefore no legal proceed- 
ings, and no conviction. 

Dohnanyi is believed to have died on 8 April 1945 in 
Sachsenhausen concentration camp, but no-one knows 
exactly what happened. 



122 



MARIA TERWIEL 

7 June 19105 August 1943 

MARIA TERWIEL was the daughter of a senior civil servant 
and was born at Boppard. She passed her matriculation in 
1929 and, as was her great wish, studied law. 

Her mother was or Jewish descent and consequently the 
Nuremberg Laws of 1935, against the Jews, made it impos- 
sible for Maria to take a university examination, and she 
finally had to abandon her law studies. Her father, a Social 




Democrat and a Roman Catholic, was dismissed from his 
office at Stettin in 1933 and took his family to Berlin. There 
Maria found work as a secretary in a Swiss textile factory. 

When war broke out she shrewdly managed to obtain 
permission for a French director of the firm, then treated as a 
prisoner of war, to carry out his compulsory labour with his 
own old firm. 

Later, when the opportunity came her way, she made 
contact with Captain Schulze-Boysen's group and used it to 
distribute copies of Bishop von Galen's sermons and to 
provide Jews in danger of persecution with passports. 

She was sentenced to death by the Reiehskriegsgericht in 
January 1943, together with her fianc, Helmut Himpel. The 
sentence was carried out on 5 August 1943. Maria Terwiel 
died a convinced Catholic. Her father had died a year before, 
and her mother and brother were killed in an air-raid on 17 
December 1943. 

Maria Terwiel, the girl whose wish to follow the legal pro- 
fession had been denied her, worked up to the end as the 
secret advocate of those who had been outlawed by the 
Nazis. A Polish girl, of whom we know only that she was sent 
from Moabit to the Leipzig prison for women, talked of her 
in a letter, which found its way to Maria Terwiel's family. 

Berlin-Moabit, 15 September, 1943 

'. . . Meeting her for the first time, one could not guess the 
depth of feeling which lay behind her clear and honest features. 
Only her eyes spoke for themselves. 

'She had been alone in the cell until I joined her there. At 
first we were all very closely guarded and watched. There was 
always an SS-man outside in the corridor, who looked through 
the spy-hole every other minute, and the lights were on all 
night. All this was intended to frustrate any attempt to commit 
suicide. Maria could not sleep, her bed was full of vermin, she 
kept pacing up and down the cell. During the daytime she did 
piano exercises on a piece of wood and stood at the window for 
hours whistling all kinds of tunes. One day I was pushed into 
her cell by a female guard, and she at once took me under her 
protection. 

'At that time I was a newcomer to the prison, straight from 
Warsaw. I was separated from my Polish friends for the first 
time, afraid, and very near to tears. But with Maria a stiff 
upper lip was the order of the day. 

'At first she did not think that a death sentence was in store 
124 



for her. Only with time and experience no more news, except 
of new death sentences; after a retrospective law came out and 
all the other girls, Cato Bantjes van Beek, Eva Buch and the 
rest, were given death sentences only then did we understand 
that there was also no hope for us. 

Then Maria became very restless, she worried about 
Helmut . . . Before the Gestapo she tried to take all blame on 
herself. Of course Helmut did the same thing! 

'We were both hungry and cold and shared the narrow bed. 
During those endless winter evenings Maria whistled her most 
beautiful melodies for me and I had to tell her Polish fairy 
tales. Of course I could do that only very slowly and haltingly 
because I knew so little German. Later, in January, came the 
days when Maria went into Court, while her case was heard. 
Outwardly she was completely calm and showed much courage 
and composure. When the police brought her back to the 
prison after she had received her death sentence I thought at 
first all had gone well at the door of the cell she was still 
talking to the guards with a smile. I could hardly believe it 
when she told me that she and Helmut . . . 

'After the death sentence we stayed together for two more 
weeks, then I was sent to Moabit and Maria shared a cell with 
another Polish girl with the same name as mine, Christina 
Katowiz. The other Christina and Maria got on very well too 
and Maria saved her life because she told Christina again and 
again that she should admit nothing. That she did, and instead 
of being brought up before the Court, with the certainty of a 
death sentence, she was sent to a camp. Not only I and the 
other Christina, but also many other Polish girls will never 
forget Maria. She was always willing to help and she wrote the 
petitions for pardon for many of us, first of course for me. She 
often said: 'It is a pity that I could not defend you in court. 
You know I could have done very well ! " When I saw her again 
in Moabit, in the rest hour, my heart leapt for joy. We tried 
at once to get together again but it could not be arranged. The 
Court had ruled that Maria was to be kept in solitary confine- 
ment and on top of that I, being a Pole, was not allowed to 
share a room with her. 

'Here at Moabit her health began to fail and she really 
needed a nurse. At first she had a rash on her back and could 
not endure wearing the prison clothing. We made a little slip 
for her from my pillow case, which was much softer and more 
comfortable. Later she often could not digest the soup we had 
for lunch, after a few spoonfuls she had pains and was sick. 
But the worst thing was her finger. She suffered so much that 

125 



she could not sleep at night and kept walking up and down her 
cell. I don't know how she managed to dress and undress, wash 
and comb her hair. She could only write with her left hand in 
quaint clumsy little letters. She said that by her finger she 
had atoned for her sins of next year, and tried bravely to smile 
when we met in our free time. I would have given so much 
to be able to help her. Months spent together in prison bind 
people together more closely than long years of freedom . . . 

"I have seen so many splendid people die that I wondered 
after Helmut's and Maria's death, whether there were any left. 

'With all my kindest regards, 

Yours, 

CHRISTINE/ 




[I have absolutely no fear of death and certainly none of 
heavenly justice; that at least we don't have to fear. 
'Stay true to your principles and always stick together. 

Your sister MARIA. 

From the last will of Maria Terwiel, dated 29 January, 1943.] 



128 



ERNST von HARNACK 

15 July 18883 March 1945 

ERNST VON HARNACK was the son of Adolf von Harnack, 
a religious historian. He grew up in Berlin, studied in Mar- 
burg and Berlin and fought in the 1914-18 war. 

After passing his law examinations, he worked in the 
Prussian Ministry of Education, in the Land administration 
in Hersfeld, as Vice-President of the administrative Council 
of Hanover and Cologne, and as President of the Council in 
Merseburg. From 1919 onwards he was a member of the 
Social Democratic Party. The steps taken by von Papen 
against Prussia led to von Harnack's temporary retirement, 
and Hitler's re-organisation of the civil service in 1933 
brought about his final discharge. Finally his efforts to 
instigate enquiries into the murder of Stalling, after a night 
of slaughter in Kopenick, landed him in prison for a few 
weeks, for the first time but not for the last. 

Fundamentally, Ernst von Harnack was a man of a gay, 
frank and optimistic temperament, full of vitality and 
remarkably gifted; the trait which his sister Elisabeth parti- 
cularly mentions was his strong sense of justice, which 
inevitably led him to side with the oppressed and under- 
privileged. Oblivious to public opinion or personal safety, he 
was guided in all the important decisions of his life by his 
Protestant faith, and answerable only to God and to his own 
conscience. 

The Prussian administration had become part of his life, 
and when he was forced into premature retirement he felt 
the urge to write of his experiences in the profession he 
loved. In his book The Practice of Public Administration 
(1936) he brought to light in his own inimitable style the 
inner workings of the administrative machine, so much so 
that the book was banned immediately on publication. 

Although a civil servant by inclination and truly devoted 
to his work, Harnack had about him little of the typical 
government official. He was too much of an individualist for 
that, and because of his artistic interests and talents, which 
he indulged and developed all his life, he was at home in 

127 



many other settings. There was in particular his love of 
music. As a schoolboy he founded an orchestra, he played 
the flute very well indeed and was well versed in the history 
of music, as in the history of literature and art. He had 
learned bookbinding, his drawing was a delight, and his skill 
in other arts and crafts were a source of much pleasure to Eis 
children and his friends. 

Von Harnack was by nature gregarious, in fact social life 
in all its manifestations, small talk, anecdote, conversation 
and argument, was for him an almost passionate necessity. 
His natural sympathy gave him an intense interest in the 
personal fate of his friends and acquaintances, and indeed 
in their practical problems and decisions; and of course in 
current political and religious questions. But politics were 
his burning interest, and the conversations which really 
attracted bin were those whereby he might clarify his own 
mind about motives, aims, relationships and behaviour; and 
this whether he was concerned, often at the risk of his life, 
in helping the persecuted and the pursued, or in saving their 
possessions, or whether he was engaged in resisting the 
government without goodness or grace*, as he called the 
Hitler regime. This he did both openly and in secret, but 
often, as both his sons were at the front, with a heavy heart. 

Hendrik de Man s daughter tells of a visit which she and 
her husband paid to Harnack in the winter of 1941-42, and 
of his efforts to establish contacts abroad : 

'We met in a big room on the first floor. Its tall windows 
looked on to an inner courtyard which lay silent and mysterious 
in the half-light of a November afternoon. The room looked 
rather like an artist's studio, and the furniture bore silent 
witness to the break between the past life of its owner, and 
the present. 

*Ernst von Harnack, aristocrat, former government official, 
Socialist, had lost his high position through the Hitler regime 
and was now working as a traveller for a cloth factory, but the 
war had so seriously restricted the textile market that he was 
looking for another job. In the second year of the war he found 
a most unusual one. Under instructions from the Berlin City 
Council he had to draw up lists of the graves of famous men 
which were scattered over the cemeteries of the city. 

Trom the very start it was evident that Ernst von Harnack 
had no illusions about our attitude to the German political 
leaders of the time. He spoke quite openly, although with some 




caution. The purpose of our visits to his office or to his lovely 
house could always be concealed under the pretext of our 
common love of music, and his collegium musicum, as he called 
it, provided excellent cover for his dealings with people "not in 
step" with the regime. 

To questions about the dangers of the secret resistance work 
he gave a reply worth recording : I asked him if the Gestapo, 

129 



with whom we were just beginning to come to grips in Belgium, 
did not make the whole illegal business very difficult. 

'Ernst von Harnack replied with a smile : "Since the German 
armies occupied most of Europe, they have gone away from 
here, and we have some peace at last". And it was a fact that 
the police vice which had gripped Germany so tightly since 
1933 was by 1941 much looser. Perhaps the brown-shirted rulers 
thought that military success would suffice to remove all 
thought of a plot against them. 

'But Ernst von Harnack saw further than the rulers. I 
remember in particular two of his lines of thought : 

'"The most important thing is," he said to me, "that the 
regime should be destroyed at one fell swoop, rather as one 
opens a zip-fastener. All preparations must be completed in 
advance, so that there is no danger of a general demoralisation 
of the nation. That is the reason why this slow work of under- 
mining is so important. The opposition must spin their web 
through the whole machinery of the regime, and at the same 
time try to make contact abroad." 

'Ernst von Harnack undertook the important task of inform- 
ing countries abroad, and particularly Belgium, at that time a 
political backwater, about the secret forces working to bring 
about the downfall of the Hitler r6gime. He therefore wanted 
without mentioning names of otter conspirators, to give 
Hendrik de Man some idea of the nature of the resistance. 

'As soon as we returned to Brussels, in March 1942, I lost 
no time in giving my father an exact report. He was very 
interested indeed and impressed upon me the need for secrecy, 
saying I must tell no-one else about these conversations. It is a 
strange thing that barely a fortnight later, he heard of similar 
plans from a former S.P.D. member of the Reichstag, Carlo 
Mierendorff, whom he met in Paris/ 

Two years later things began to move. Von Harnack had 
been away from Berlin on business and returned just after 
20 July 1944. Although he must have known of his peril, and 
although relations and friends tried to persuade him to hide 
in some out-of-the-way place, he remained in Berlin and in 
the next few days tried with the help of the Catholic Church 
to find the children of his friend Julius Leber, who had been 
arrested in accordance with the Nazi practice of punishing 
not only the man, but his family as well. 

On 1 February 1945 the People's Court sentenced von 
Harnack to death, and the sentence was carried out on 
130 



3 March. In the weeks before his death, he remarked to 
another political prisoner : 'The most important thing is not 
to achieve one's end, but to find the right means for the 
attempt'. 




A silhouette torn from black-out paper with the point of c 

nail one of von Harnack's occupations between his trial 

and his death. 



181 



FRITZ ELSAS 

11 July 18904 January 1945 

FRITZ ELSAS, the son of a factory owner, was born at 
Cannstatt in Wiirttemberg. After his matriculation he 
studied law, and soon made a name for himself by his 
untiring work in public administration. 

Conspiracy was alien to his character, for he was a man 
who dealt in sober and concrete terms. Not that he lacked 
political enthusiasm, and family tradition alone had brought 
him in contact with the democratic circles in Swabia (where 
he grew up) at an early stage in his life; but he had no 
political ambition, and was more concerned to see order 
resulting from good administration and the inviolability of 
justice in the state. His boyhood dreams had been academic, 
and he never abandoned them. He was first legal adviser to 
the City of Stuttgart, became President of the Deutscher 
Stadtetag (Association of Municipal Councils) in 1926, at the 
early age of 36, and then Mayor of Berlin in 1931, but in 
addition to his official tasks he still continued important 
research work on economic and social aspects of municipal 
policy. 

The year 1933 wrecked his career in public life because of 
his Jewish descent. But five years in the Stadtetag had won 
him respect in political circles of both Left and Right, and 
also much personal friendship and confidence. Many who 
waited for a turn of the tide in politics always remembered 
him, and so in the long years of darkness were comforted by 
the hope that plans and drafts prepared for the future would 
yet come into their own. He had no illusions about the 
dangers that threatened his own life. Several months of 
imprisonment in 1937 (for giving legal advice to emigrants) 
had been intended to bring him to heel. That had not 
worked, and there were still independent judges in Berlin . . . 
but for how long would this be the case? He was arrested 
for the second time in August 1944. A few months later 
friends found in his empty house (his family had already 
been taken away into Sippenhaft, preventive custody of 
family members) a note among his papers that had escaped 
132 * 




the careless search made by the Gestapo. This note was to 
tell his wife to whom she should turn after he had disap- 
peared: the names were Goerdeler, Popitz, Zarden and 
Heuss. 

Theodor Heuss, who with Eberhard Wildermuth had 
formed the nucleus of an intimate circle in Swabia, occa- 
sionally tells of his last talks with Fritz Elsas in Berlin. Heuss 
himself had moved to the south of Germany in August 1943. 
He tells how after a talk with Goerdeler, he asked Elsas, 
whom he knew to be a close friend of Goerdeler's, whether 

133 



Goerdeler might not be persuaded to go about his business 
rather more quietly. He had then discussed Goerdeler's plans 
with this man whom he hardly knew, but who was as honest 
as he was un-political; and finally Elsas had laughed and 
said: 'Perhaps you are right. But a noiseless motor has not 
yet been invented and Goerdeler is the motor that drives 
all who hesitate/ There was nothing more to be said. 

After the failure of the plot of 20 July 1944 Karl Goerdeler 
came to Elsas's house in Patschkauer Weg, Berlin-Dahlem, 
where he had so often been before. It is hardly likely that his 
coming was as happy as it used to be, but since he was 
actually there he found a friendly reception, on 27 July and 
again on 31 July anything else would have been quite con- 
trary to Elsas' nature. The community of thought between 
him and Goerdeler had always spelt danger, and did so all 
the more at this critical juncture. Frau Elsas said later that 
they had been Very careless and on one occasion walked in 
the garden . People who are really made for conspiracy 
would probably take more care. In any case it is assumed 
that Goerdeler was recognised by someone in the neighbour- 
hood on this occasion. That meant that the fate of Fritz Elsas 
was also sealed. 

His case never went before a court. Apparently all the 
maltreatment and questioning failed to reveal any substan- 
tial evidence against him which could have been used in 
court, and although he could on occasion lose his temper, it 
was always in such critical moments well under control. It 
was apparently impossible to accuse someone of Jewish 
descent of so noble a sentiment as Tiuman loyalty'. 

He never knew that his whole family was in Sipperihaft. 
Late in October he succeeded in smuggling a letter out of 
the Gestapo prison in Lehrter Strasse, but friends who 
entered his deserted house found it in the letter-box. No one 
knows who had brought it there. He wrote this letter with 
great effort, left handed, *but the abscesses on my right hand 
[probably the result of torture] are healing*. There were 
questions about this and that, how was the garden getting 
on and was there enough coal in the house? He wished his 
family 'strength and health to master everyday life'. And 
then come the reflections : 'Time will always put new and 
unknown claims on different men in turn. Holderlin's letters 
to Diotima show how man can gain strength in spite of 
134 



suffering and need. So even suffering in love is a source of 
strength'. But his words never reached their destination. 

Late in December Fritz Elsas was transferred to Sachsen- 
hausen. Once, he was taken to Berlin for one day to be 
questioned again. In accordance with 'simplified procedure' 
he was shot by the SS on 4 January 1945 in the so-called 
Industriehof at Sachsenhausen. 



135 



JOSEPH WIRMER 

19 March 19018 September 1944 

DURING his trial before the People's Court, Joseph Winner 
made one remark which is in itself proof of his courage and 
confidence : 'If I am hanged, Herr President,' he said, 'then 
you will be the one who is afraid, not I.' 

His confidence was unaffected by his gamble with death, 
and he was absolute master of the situation. In character as 
in appearance, he was upright and forceful . . . and so the 
natural enemy, of National Socialism. On 1 May 1933 he 
heard the broadcast of Hitler s speech at the Tempelhofer 
Feld, among friends who were all too easily carried away; 
and announced with religious solemnity : 1 shall be Hitler's 
enemy/ The hour in which this enmity was born was in fact 
the hour of Hitler's first public appearance after he came to 
power, and at that moment Winner understood the nature 
of his enemy and knew that he must oppose the anti-Christ, 
if necessary at the risk of his life. He saw from the start that 
Hitler threatened the ethics, the Christianity and the culture 
which were part of his own being, the basis of his life as man, 
as a father, as a responsible citizen and as a member of the 
legal profession. 

Of Winner's sense of justice his brother Otto has written : 

'He believed he could best retain his independence in the 
practice of his profession as a solicitor, although the rigid rules 
and regulations were an anathema to him and an outrage to his 
feeling for individual responsibility. For all his legal training 
and inclination, he regarded laws which took no account of 
facts or circumstances as so much nonsense; the thesis autoritas 
non veritas factt legevri, he dismissed as Jesus dismissed the 
tempter in the desert, and he was in the end deeply convinced 
that law must emerge from the order established by historical 
evolution, and must itself and by that virtue continually evolve. 
He thus believed that by defeating the formal law introduced 
by a dictatorship he was in fact serving on a much higher 
plane the cause of justice to which he had dedicated his life. 
The fact that Freisler attacked him with particular venom was 
a sure sign that the regime regarded him as one of its most 
dangerous enemies, and therefore as one to be eliminated Just 
136 




Photograph taken in the People's Court 

as they had thrown him out of the Rechtswahrerbund (a Nazi 
organisation for members of the legal profession), years before, 
for his fearless defence of victims of racial persecution/ 
* * * 

'My brother Joseph had got to know Karl Goerdeler through 
Jakob Kaiser, now a Minister in the Federal Republic. I 
remember meeting Goerdeler, frequently, at my brother's office 
in Berlin, and in his flat in Lichterfelde I also met Julius Leber. 
Joseph also knew Ulrich von Hassell and Klaus Bonhoeffer 

137 



and spent much of his time with Max Habermann, but above 
all he worked with Bernhard Letterhaus. He was in touch with 
resistance in the Services through Glaus von Stauffenberg.' 

Joseph Winner was sentenced to death by the People's 
Court, under the presidency of Freisler, on 8 September, 
1944, as one of the principals in the attempt of 20 July 1944. 
He was hanged the same day. 



138 



BERTHOLD SCHENK GRAF von 
STAUFFENBERG 

15 March 190510 August 1944 

BEBTHOLD SCHENK GRAF VON STAUFFENBERG 
studied at the universities of Heidelberg, Jena, Berlin and 




Photograph taken In the People's Court 

139 



Tubingen, and after taking the degree of Doctor of Law in 
1927 worked as an official at the Institute of International 
Law in Berlin. At the age of 26 he was sent to the Court of 
International Justice at The Hague, and in 1933 he was 
recalled to Berlin to take over a department of the Institute 
of International Law. At the beginning of the war, because 
of his special knowledge of Maritime Law, the Navy asked 
for his services. Until 20 July 1944 he worked as legal 
adviser in the Naval Operations Headquarters. He was sen- 
tenced to death on 10 August 1944 by the People's Court, 
and the sentence was carried out the same day. 
* * * 

Berthold von Stauffenberg and his brother Glaus had been 
close friends ever since they were children : they were very 
much dependent on each other during their years at school 
and at university. Both were members of the Georg-Kreis 
and, in spite of their different careers, they kept in touch to 
the end of their lives. They spent the evening of 19 July 1944 
together, and together they met their death for the same 
cause. 

On 14 July 1944 Berthold said to his wife : 'The worst 
thing is blowing that we cannot succeed, and yet that we 
have to do it, for our country and for our children/ These 
words illustrate both his own character and the contrast 
between him and his brother Glaus, the man of action. 
Werner Traber, Berthold's closest friend for many years, has 
written of him: 

'Should one want to fashion a statue to integrity, kindness 
and the sense of justice, one should use Berthold Stauffenberg 
as the model. He knew by instinct what was right, often far 
sooner than other people who later had to acknowledge his 
judgment. 

'Berthold himself was not a man of action and had no interest 
in power and glory. He studied and taught law. The problems 
of law and justice in the international field were his work and 
became also his interest and concern, and so far as he could he 
went on with his work during the war, when he was a senior 
official in the OKW (Supreme Command of the Navy). Speech 
and writing were the media which suited him best, poetry and 
art were part of his life, by tradition and inclination. 

'All this made him a natural enemy of the National Socialist 
system of government, but the step from the thought to the 
140 



deed was too great for many people, and the course which he 
took was completely out of character. He saw the crimes which 
Germany had committed, in which her leaders daily involved 
her more deeply. Therefore he rose to the terrible situation, 
and with clear conviction made the sacrifice demanded of him 
by Germany and by the cause of justice.* 



141 



ERWIN PLANCK 

12 March 189323 January 1945 

E R w i N P L A N c K , the son of Max Planck, the internationally 
well known physicist, was born in Berlin. After passing his 
matriculation he joined a Fusilier Regiment in Schleswig- 
Holstein, as a cadet, and was later commissioned. He then 
studied medicine for several terms and when war broke out 
in 1914 went to the front, but in the same year he was 
severely wounded and taken prisoner by the French; he was 
exchanged by way of Switzerland in 1917. 

He remained in the army and in 1923 was attached to the 
Reich Chancellory as liaison officer, and later, after his trans- 
fer to the civil service, he worked in the same office as a 
civilian. He became an Under-Secretary in 1932, under von 
Schleicher, but resigned when Hitler came to power in 1933. 
He travelled for a time in East Asia, and as his political 
convictions made it difficult for him to find a post he could 
accept, he spent the next few years in private studies in 
economics, political science and history, until he finally 
accepted a post with the Otto Wolff Company in Cologne. 
Erwin Planck had taken a keen interest in politics and 
political science ever since the first war. In his military and 
later in his civil career he tried always to penetrate more 
deeply into these problems, and to find in history lessons for 
his own work in the service of the state. He soon became 
convinced that moral principles also apply to politics, and 
said more than once : It never pays to use immoral means in 
politics/ After his recovery from an illness which struck him 
down when he was about 30, he wrote in his diary, on 20 
July, 1924: 'The only thing of value that remains when I 
venture into shadows, be it of pain or death, is character. 
Why should I imperil or neglect it on the off chance of some 
sort of material profit? 
Hans, Baron von Kress has written a sketch of his friend : 

'People who were often in his house will remember him 
holding some book close to his eyes and allowing nothing in his 
surroundings to disturb him while he was reading; always 
searching for an answer or learning something new. 
142 




Photograph taken in the People's Court 

'He had the rare gift of being able to listen and to bide his 
time, and he was always reserved and modest; but once he 
joined in a conversation he immediately evoked an atmosphere 
of interest and intimacy. Erwin Planck was a friendly and 
tolerant man, always careful in forming an opinion, always at 
pains to avoid hurting other people's feelings. He was no revolu- 
tionary and certainly no adventurer, and he had no great love 
of taking risks. But where brutality and evil were concerned he 
was always ready to resist. 

'Until 1933, Erwin Planck had taken pleasure and a personal 

143 



interest in his civil service work, but when Hitler seized power 
he realised at once that the new policies were irreconcilable 
with his principles and that the new regime meant the end of 
his professional career. During the era of the Third Reich he 
watched the course of events closely, tried always to search his 
own conscience, to encourage other people to search theirs and 
to keep alive to the demands of justice and humanity. He also, 
with his wife, helped wherever he could, and he knew it was 
no longer a question of politics, but of a fight against evil. The 
spread of injustice grieved him more and more and he came to 
the conclusion that disapproval was not enough, and to the 
belief that he would have to offer positive resistance, even at 
the risk of his life. Some time before his arrest he said : 

'"Atonement must be made for the injustice that has been 
done"; and in this spirit he accepted his fate/ 

Erwin Planck was arrested on 23 July 1944, described by 
Freisler as a traitor to his country, sentenced to death on 
23 October and executed in Berlin-Plotzensee on 23 January 
1945. 



144 



KLAUS BONHOEFFER 

5 January 190123 April 1945 

KLAUS BONHOEFFER was born in Breslau, the son of a 
university professor. He was admitted to the bar in 1930 and 
became legal adviser to the German Lufthansa in 1936. 




Klaus Bonhoeffer grew up among two elder and five 
younger brothers and sisters, but soon, according to his 
brother Karl Friedrich, created a world of his own in their 
midst. He had a good sense of fun, but was not on the whole 
easy-going; good natured as he was, he could be obstinate if 
handled the wrong way. He was an excellent judge of 
character and uninfluenced by either rank or age. 

When he was 16 or 17 he began to concern himself with 
the question that was to absorb him always, the problem of 
individual relationships in human society. He was intensely 
interested in men and nations, customs and characteristics. 
He liked travelling and his journeys took him from Finland 
to North Africa and from England to Greece and Turkey; 
but it was the Latin and the French speaking countries that 
drew him most. 

In his law studies the human and social implications of the 
law held his attention, rather than legal formalities and 
abstractions, an attitude which is best illustrated in his thesis 
Uber die Grundformen des Rechtes (The Basis of Law), pub- 
lished in the periodical Weisse Blatter, in which he challenges 
the legality of a totalitarian state, and compares it with com- 
munities whose development has been natural and organic. 

It goes without saying that he saw through National 
Socialism from the start, and refused to be hoodwinked or 
intimidated when the Nazis came to power. His passionate 
respect for justice and human dignity immediately led him 
into the fray, and 'Principiis obsta'mp evil in the bud- 
was his motto even before 1933. When this had failed, he 
was quite unable to sit by and see all that made life worth 
living justice, culture and national honour squandered by 
a mob of mediocre tyrants, and he began to search for ways 
and means of overthrowing Hitler. 

He was soon in touch with the various resistance groups, 
with Beck and Goerdeler through his brother-in-law Hans 
von Dohnanyi, with the Social Democrats and the trade 
unions through his wife's cousin Ernst von Hamack, and 
with the Confessional Church and the Ecumenical Council 
through his brother Dietrich. 

When he knew that his arrest was imminent, he made no 
attempt to run away, for he did not want to incriminate his 
relatives and friends. He was sentenced to death by the 
People's Court on 2 February 1945, and wrote a farewell 
146 



letter to his children which has been published in the book 
Auf dem Wege zur Freiheit (On the Road to Freedom). In 
this he said : 

'Ask a lot of yourselves and your friends. The search for 
fame and popularity will enslave you, unless you can equally 
well do without them, and in this few succeed. Don't listen to 
cheap applause. 

'But when you meet other people take them as they are. It is 
a mistake to jump on what you don't like or what seems odd to 
you, try always to see the good sides. This way you will not 
only judge more fairly, but you will prevent yourselves becom- 
ing narrow-minded. It takes all sorts of flowers to make a 
garden, the tulip is beautiful to behold but has no scent, and 
even the rose has thorns; and whoever is truly observant also 
enjoys the less spectacular green. It's just the same with people, 
one generally discovers all sorts of hidden qualities if one can 
just put oneself in the person's position. Self-centred people 
never realise this. But do please believe me. You will not begin 
to discover what life is about until you learn to think of other 
peopl^. If you only listen to one instrument, or worse still try 
all file feme just to hear your own, the music will pass you by, 
but if you have any real feeling for music you are only 
interested in yourself as part of the orchestra. If you can just 
develop the same attitude to your life, you will find it infinitely 
rewarding. It is not just a case of helping people now and 
again; that's usually a great pleasure, but you often give 
pleasure by receiving graciously help from other people. 
There are other things too give other people their due, take 
an interest in their doings, never indulge in sour grapes. 
Courtesy goes without saying, and will always endear you to 
other people. Cultivate courtesy, it is a fine art. If you can walk 
with kings and keep your virtue, so much the better, and it is 
merely crude to despise the ways of the world. If you can't, 
then keep very quiet. But you have plenty of time. I am only 
talking like this now because I won't be with you later on. 

*I hope time and circumstance will allow you to develop 
mentally and each in his own way, so that you will experience 
the great joy of a genuine education. But don't imagine the 
main purpose of education to be the high position for which 
it may fit you; the main purpose is the individual dignity and 
freedom which it can bestow. It widens your horizon in time 
and eternity, and contact with the great and noble things of 
life gives their true value to decency, judgment and feeling; 
fires enthusiasm and makes sense of everyday Me. 

147 



"That way you can be the kings of the earth. And one more 
thing self-control, for thereby you can not only develop your 
talents and become able and efficient, but also, if circumstances 
permit, come to be judged not only for what you do, but for 
what you are/ 

Klaus Bonhoeffer was shot by the SS during the night of 
22-23 April 1945, while the Russians were entering Berlin. 



148 



RUDIGER SCHLEICHER 

14 January 189523 April 1945 

RUDIGER SCHLEICHER was the son of a civil servant in 
Wiirttemberg. He was seriously wounded in the first world 
war and kter studied at Tubingen University. He passed his 
law examinations and obtained his Doctor's degree in 1923 




with a thesis on aviation law. He continued his work in this 
field, and wrote more on the same subject for the Ministry of 
Transport and Communications and later for the Air Ministry. 
After 1939 he held a part-time job as chief of the Institute for 
Aviation Law at Berlin University. 

In a petition for mercy filed in January 1945, Dr Branden- 
burg, the Director of the Aviation Department of the 
Ministry of Transport and Communications, wrote of Riidiger 
Schleicher: 

1 and my colleagues have always regarded Dr Schleicher as 
a man of great individuality. His frankness and his love of 
truth had no limits and he seemed to be quite unaware of 
intrigues and of the sordid side of life. He was invariably 
successful in his work, and as often his success went unnoticed; 
but it was always achieved by the fairest of means. In fun I 
sometimes called him "Our Parsifal". Lies and deception were 
not in his nature, his trust in people was profound and he was 
in fear of no man because he had absolute faith in the existence 
and reality of "right". For him the word had a deeply religious 
meaning, and all his life he had had scruples as to whether his 
own ideas were really "right", and worried in case anyone might 
be hurt and whether he was really expressing himself honesSy. 
He could be most disarming, by suddenly opposing his own 
theory. Under the surface he was always fighting with himself.' 

Schleicher was a scientist, a teacher and a civil servant, 
and at heart always remained a Swabian democrat, but his 
acute sense of justice was bound before long to bring him 
into irreconcilable conflict with the demands of dictatorship. 
His superiors often warned him against continuing his inter- 
ventions on behalf of Jews and concentration camp prisoners. 
In 1939 he refused a court martial case because he would not 
help to convict anyone whose attitude he himself approved. 
Time and again he came to grips with the basic principles of 
law and in 1942, for instance, made a speech on 'Right and 
Law', the publication of which was forbidden. In prison, he 
was still absorbed in legal problems. 

Owing to its position, his Institute for Aviation Law on the 
Leipziger Platz became a meeting-place for the opposition, 
and here liaison men were able to get in touch with the 
various resistance groups without attracting attention. Under 
cover of bogus scientific missions, Schleicher enabled his 
150 



assistant Hans John to visit fellow conspirators in other cities, 
and after the arrest of his brothers-in-law, Hans von 
Dohnanyi and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, such opportunities took 
on an even greater significance. Schleicher continued through 
his ministry to send information to the inner circle of con- 
spirators and at the same time worked on problems dealing 
with civil flying in the event of Hitler's overthrow. 

After the 20 July uprising Hans John and, on 4 October, 
Rudiger Schleicher, were held in the Lehrterstrasse prison. 
He and his friends were sentenced to death on 2 February 
1945, and the case against them was based on the Emergency 
Decrees of 28 February 1933, for which the Reichstag fire 
had been the original justification. 

In spite of his war wound, Rudiger Schleicher was kept in 
chains, and spent the last months of his life in the same 
prison as his brother-in-law and son-in-law. During the night 
of 22-23 April he was shot by an SS firing squad near the 
Lehrter Station, together with Hans John, Klaus Bonhoeffer, 
Justus Perels, Albrecht Haushofer and other prisoners. 

On 3 February 1945, Rudiger Schleicher's brother, a doctor, 
was on his way to the People's Court with a Petition for 
mercy, and had to take shelter in the underground station on 
the Potsdamer Platz during an air-raid. From there he was 
summoned to the burning building of the People's Court and 
told that the President of the Court, Freisler, had been 
seriously hurt. 

When he arrived, Freisler was dead. Rolf Schleicher was 
asked to certify his death. He refused, because Freisler had 
sentenced his brother to death the day before. 



151 

M 



5 TRADITION 

WHEN in October 1931, at Bad Harzburg, a number of well- 
known Conservatives made common cause with the National 
Socialists, many people lost their political bearings. Some of 
them seem to have thought not only that National Socialism 
would improve economic and social conditions but also that 
it would strengthen patriotic feeling and revive the political 
and intellectual traditions of the past; and as time went on 
and the disaster became apparent, the whole question of 
tradition and its meaning came into dispute. 

Many of the traditional Conservatives, men whose views 
and standards were determined by their birth, education, 
upbringing and profession, were at first wholly deceived as 
to Hitler's real intentions and were able to rid themselves of 
the illusion of a 'national renaissance* only after great 
struggles with their own consciences and after they had had 
solid proof of the destructive character of the new regime. 
Many of them placed their confidence in the Wehrmacht, 
which appeared to have retained its independence and was 
in their eyes the pillar of old and valuable traditions. 

The Wehrmacht did not justify this confidence. This was 
probably due less to the character of the senior officers of the 
day than to the past history of the German army and in 
particular to its development after 1918, when many officers 
who were bound in strict allegiance to the Kaiser found it 
impossible after the German collapse to come to terms with 
the young democracy. They saw the Weimar Republic as the 
offspring of the left-wing groups who had opposed the army 
bills before 1914 and disapproved of LudendorfFs policy 
during the war. The military profession continued its old 
tradition and resisted the influence of fie new democracy. 
The Refchswehr remained a reliable instrument in the hands 
of the commanders-in-chief , but it was out of sympathy with 
the state it served. 

The National Socialists were at first no more able to 
influence the Wehrmacht than were the Weimer politicians. 
The discipline and control of the army contrasted too 
strikingly with the boisterous behaviour of the party and its 
Storm Troopers. But things changed after the seizure of 
152 



power and the proclamation of military sovereignty. Hitler's 
measures to increase the size and power of the Wehrmacht 
naturally met with approval in military circles, even if the 
influx of fanatical National Socialists did not, and though 
some senior officers may have had a secret antipathy towards 
the new rulers and their brutality, they did not interfere. 
They offered no opposition to the events of 30 June 1934. 
But when after Hindenburg's death the Wehrmacht swore 
the Oath of Allegiance to Hitler, and he made use of his new 
authority drastically to curtail the freedom of the officer 
corps and to challenge their right to use their own judgment, 
he found that tradition was a double-edged weapon. 

The rival conceptions of obedience and responsibility were 
bound to cause conflict between Hitler and the service chiefs. 
The generals, for instance, believed that a violent solution of 
the Lebensraum problem by aggression would stir up a world 
war which would result in utter defeat for Germany. They 
warned him against each successive annexation: and on 
military matters they were not accustomed to having their 
advice ignored. The first military revolt was planned in the 
summer of 1938, and thereafter many senior officers toyed 
with the idea of a coup d'tiat. 

Opposition sprang from many sources: some of it was 
inspired by military rather than ethical considerations, by the 
belief that Hitler would bring Germany to military disaster, 
but there were many cases where fundamental convictions 
lay behind military motives, and others where military con- 
siderations were the starting point to much deeper under- 
standing. In the summer of 1938 General Beck, the Chief of 
the General Staff, resigned from his post, and there began 
the story which was to end with many German officers 
actively supporting the resistance movement, and many more 
unable any longer to bring themselves to hope for a German 
victory, even if one had been possible. 

Tradition implants values as well as views. Representa- 
tives of die aristocracy, senior civil servants, monarchists, 
moved in the same direction as the officers. The Bavarian 
royalist who pleaded for a patriarchal (but constitutional) 
state, the landowner who considered it his duty to look after 
Tiis' people, the mayor, the father of the city, who would not 
stand by and see the systematic destruction of local govern- 
ment and the manipulation of public life; the old-world 

153 



diplomat who feared for the reputation of his country abroad 
and saw the disastrous repercussions of the policy of his 
government. All these turned against the dictatorship, and 
there was more to it than mere expediency. Men whose 
whole lives were based on traditional concepts of justice and 
honour could not easily follow such unscrupulous leadership, 
and could not condone its inhumanity. At this point the 
genuine Conservatives parted company with the fools and 
the fanatics who welcomed the new era for the economic 
and social advantages they themselves hoped to gain. They 
first challenged the authorities, and then in many cases 
actively resisted them, and so affirmed the values which were 
the basis of their education and their careers. 



154 



ADOLF von MARNIER 

14 April 190312 May 1945 

ADOLF VON MARNIER, Freiherr von Regendorf, was the 
third son of a landowner who was also Chamberlain at the 
Bavarian Court. He became a Doctor of Law in 1934. There- 
after he settled in Munich as a solicitor, believing that it was 




out of the question under the Nazis to follow his own inclina- 
tions and to engage in politics or in some more ambitious legal 
activity. Nazi Germany was the antithesis of his conception 
of a just and ordered state and he sharply rejected Hitler 
from the moment in 1923 when he had been an eye-witness 
of the Putsch and of Hitler s subsequent appearance in a trial 
for high treason. 

Adolf von Harnier was always concerned with religious 
and philosophical questions and was converted to Catholicism 
in 1934. 

On 12 May 1945, after six years in prison, he died of 
typhoid due to starvation and general physical weakness. He 
did not live long enough to regain his freedom, for he died 
on the day that the Americans, who had meanwhile occupied 
the prison, had arranged to release him. This was the news 
which met his wife when she finally reached the prison at 
Straubing, six days after his death. 

* * * 

Adolf von Harnier never swerved from the course he 
believed to be right. He rejected force as an instrument of 
politics and was convinced that Nazism must destroy itself. 
He therefore concentrated on preparations of a Christian, 
legal and democratic character, for the time after the Nazi 
collapse. 

One day a Gestapo informer succeeded in gaining admit- 
tance to a meeting held in the home of the town surveyor, 
Josef Zott also one of the victims of those years. In August 
1939 the whole group was arrested and Harnier as the leading 
figure was remanded for five years while enquiries were 
carried out. In 1944, after a trial for treason, he was sen- 
tenced to ten years in prison and ten years' loss of civil rights. 

During his years in prison he remained just as strong as he 
had always been in his predictions of the catastrophic end 
of the Third Reich, just as dauntless as he had been in his 
defence of clergymen, and in his legal assistance to per- 
secuted Jews. Many of his fellow-sufferers found him a great 
moral support. 

His friend, Erich Chrambach, tells us : 

1 was often shocked when we met for brief moments between 
questioning or in the gloomy prison yard. Deathly white, his 
dark eyes shining from deep caverns, he was the very picture 
156 



of suffering. And yet no word of complaint ever crossed his 
lips, and often enough he made use of the few means of com- 
munication that were left to give us a word of consolation and 
encouragement/ 

The notes which Adolf von Harnier made for his defence 
illustrate both his own attitude and the background to the 
accusations. 

The following are extracts: 

1 am a true servant of my King and country, not only as a 
dutiful subject but also because I am a convinced monarchist, 
politically and intellectually. I mean by that, that quite apart 
from myself and my relationship to my Bavarian and German 
fatherland, I believe monarchy to be the most successful form 
of government that the history of mankind has known. 

'As an adult, tax-paying citizen, I have the right and even the 
obligation to take an active part in public affairs. Such activity 
can be restricted only by constitutional decrees or other legis- 
lation and only in individual cases, never in principle. 

The legal situation in Germany after 1933 led to very severe 
restrictions of the political activities of the citizen. But theoreti- 
cally, and even in practice, such activity has not been entirely 
eliminated. Since 1933 there have been plebiscites and elections 
in which the people were supposed to express their approval or 
disapproval of individual political acts and even of the entire 
policy of their government. . . . 

1 have never encouraged anyone to enter or to undermine 
party organisations. On lie contrary, I have always considered 
it the duty of people of character to forego membership of 
political parties if such membership was against their own con- 
victions, even if the refusal meant loss of privilege and perse- 
cution. This is the passive resistance which a man of honour 
must offer, regardless of the system under which he lives. . . . 

The most I can have said about Hitler's origins is that it has 
always been the custom for State officials to be drawn from all 
classes of the people. I cannot possibly have spoken of better or 
worse races, let alone mentioned "the worst" races, because on 
principle I consider it immoral to believe that one race is better 
than another. I have the same attitude to the mixing of blood, 
of which I myself am a product. For the very reason that I 
oppose the Nazi programme of racial discrimination, I protest 
that I cannot have said anything about Hitler's ancestry, about 
which I in any case know nothing. . . . 

1 have never intended "to tip the scales with my ideas"; I 
intended quite simply to give help and advice to a circle of 

157 



simple, decent, helpless friends who thought as I did, in so 
far as they asked me to do so. That was simply a social duty, 
but at the same time it gave me cause to search my own con- 
science. Nothing is so difficult as to stand the test of conscience 
before a group of uneducated but critical and intelligent work- 
ing men, with their unerring instinct for character. . . / 



OTTO KARL KIEP 

7 July 188626 August 1944 

OTTO KARL KIEP was born in Saltcoats, Scotland, and was 
the son of a German Consul; he continued the family tradi- 
tion and won respect in international diplomacy for his 
many-sided work in the German Foreign Service. 

He was arrested by the Gestapo on 16 January 1944, con- 
demned to death on 1 July, and executed in Berlin-Plotzensee 
on 26 August. 

* * * 

Otto Kiep studied law in Germany, received his Doctorate 
of Law at the University of London, served in the 1914-18 
war and then entered the Foreign Office. He first took part 
in conferences concerning reparations. His service as a 
diplomat was interrupted by a term as Head of the Imperial 
Press Department under the Luther Cabinet, but he was 
appointed Counsellor at the German Embassy in Washington 
in 1927 and Consul General in New York in 1930; by his own 
wish he was recalled to Germany in 1933. He has given the 
reasons for his resignation in notes which he wrote for his 
children during his imprisonment. Bearing in mind that the 
letter had to go through the National Socialist Censorship, he 
wrote in these words : 

'In Germany there were six million unemployed, in the 
U.S.A. twelve million, so that the German New Order was 
regarded by the Americans with more understanding than one 
might have expected, considering its fight against democracy 
and Liberalism. But this favourable atmosphere vanished as 
soon as the anti-Jewish measures were taken in Germany. . . . 
Albert Einstein, who was staying in America at the time, giving 
lectures, became a central figure in the Jewish reaction, and 
was more or less elevated to the position of one of the martyrs 
of international Jewty, and his presence in the United States 
represented as an escape from persecution in Germany. 

1 had been staying in Florida for a fortnight to get rid of a 
cold. On my return I found that my deputy, Schwarz, had 
accepted on my behalf an invitation to a banquet to be held in 
Einstein's honour by the city of New York and several cultural 

159 



societies there. My decision to go to this banquet later involved 
me in all kinds of difficulties and led to my resignation from 
the active list . . ." 

In his notes, Kiep then gave details of the warnings and 
threatening letters addressed to Einstein, which gave rise to 
the fear that he would be set upon by hysterical German 
exchange students before his return to Germany. Kiep felt 
that this made his own presence at the banquet more neces- 
sary than ever, if he was not to be identified with the official 
German attitude. He then writes: 1 was given many 
interesting diplomatic posts later on, but whenever the ques- 
tion of promotion to a legation or embassy arose, I met with 
the objection that the "Einstein case" had done me too much 
harm/ 

The German Foreign Office recalled him from New York 
in 1933, at his own request. And since, as they told him, there 
was no other post immediately available, he was given 
extended leave. He mentions this move also in the notes he 
wrote in prison : 

'This decision also gave me some headaches, but considering 
that the policy which I had publicly represented in America in 
the past year had been completely reversed, I felt that it was 
essential that a new man should repkce me. Though some of 
iny friends and acquaintances condemned my attitude I realise, 
in retrospect, that I was absolutely right/ 

Otto Kiep then led a trade delegation to South America, in 
1934, and to East Asia in 1935. From 1937 to 1939 he was the 
German representative on the London Non-intervention 
Committee for Spain. In 1939, instead of staying in England, 
which would have meant internment, he chose to return to 
Germany and entered the Foreign Department of the Armed 
Forces Headquarters, which became one of the key positions 
for resistance activities against Hitler, as a reserve-officer. 
He managed to keep his activities secret until the day when a 
tea-time conversation at Elisabeth von Thadden's flat, about 
the war situation and the collapse of the eastern front, was 
betrayed to the Gestapo. On 28 September 1943, Otto 
Kiep visited his sister Ida and confided to her, as she wrote 
after his death: 

'I have been thinking seriously about this matter for a long 
160 




time. If we don't do something soon to change course we'll all 
be on the rocks for certain. I had always hoped that as in 1813 
a Yordk would appear among the generals to put things into 
reverse on his own responsibility ... if they're on my tail 
now it's only because of what I said at the tea-party. Naturally 
they try to liquidate everybody who sees through the party and 
its machinations, or has any political vision. I am confiding in 
you because it is very likely that after I am arrested they will 
arrest my wife too. That is what happens now. 

161 



"I must ask you to look after the children for me and to tell 
my brothers, if anything happens to me, that I send them a fond 
farewell and that they should think of my death as if I had 
been killed in the front line/ 

After this visit Otto Kiep went back to Berlin. On 16 
January, three SS men came to his home and took him away. 
Two criminal investigation officials remained in the house to 
guard his 16-year-old son, Albrecht. A few days later his wife 
Hanna was arrested, and while the parents were imprisoned 
in the concentration camp at Ravensbriick, separated from 
one another by a wall, Albrecht, by then just 17, was called 
up on 1 April 1944, for service with the Navy at Stralsund. 

After the execution of Otto Kiep, his wife was released. 
Three months later his son was reported missing after his 
ship was sunk off the Finnish coast. 



162 



KARL FRIEDRICH GOERDELER 

31 July 18842 February 1945 

KARL GOERDELER came from a conservative Prussian 
family with a long tradition in the Civil Service. He studied 
law and later had some experience of commerce and banking. 




Photograph taken In the People's Court 

163 



He served in the 1914-18 war, and from 1920 to 1930, a time 
when his sympathies were with the German National Party, 
he was Deputy Burgermeister of Konigsberg. From 1930 to 
1937 he was Oberburgermeister in Leipzig, and in his spare 
time worked under Briining as Commissioner for price regu- 
lation. He put his many connections and his reputation in local 
government at the service of the resistance movement and 
became one of its leading figures. He was condemned to 
death on 7 September 1944, and was executed after imprison- 
ment and torture, on 2 February 1945. 
* * * 

The German opposition to Hitler had to contend with 
endless difficulties and set-backs, and in such circumstances 
the personality of Karl Friedrich Goerdeler, with his iron 
nerve and his indomitable will, was a powerful asset. Above 
all he had an unshakable belief that by virtue of human 
reason and vision, good would finally prevail. He was con- 
vinced that a system which lives 'from financial folly, 
economic compulsion, political terror, lawlessness and 
amorality' could not last long. Sooner or later collapse was 
certain, *by the laws of Nature and of God'. 

A secret circular letter which Goerdeler sent to the generals 
in March 1943 makes his attitude clear: 

It is no good whitewashing the facts or burying our con- 
science, for that will not absolve us from the duty of averting 
this disaster before it is too late. 1918 should have taught us to 
know when the time has come. If one is seriously convinced 
that the war cannot be won and that a better opportunity for 
negotiation will not arise, then one must substitute political for 
military action; and if the government of the day stands in the 
way, the Government must fall, as governments have fallen 
throughout history; all the more so when it dominates the scene 
and has gone far to exclude everyone else from their share of 
responsibility. If such a government does not seek its obvious 
duty to put the fate of the people before it's own, then the 
lesson must be brought home. 

1 see no risk at all in embarking on negotiations. How is it 
possible that a decent people can put up with such an unbear- 
able system for so long? The explanation is simple: only 
because all infringements of justice and decency are protected 
by secrecy and terrorism. But all this can change at one blow if 
these impossible conditions are brought out into the light of 
164 



aay. ne merman people snouia be told out loud ot what they 
already know and discuss in secret, of the consequences of 
incompetent military leadership, of the excess of corruption and 
of the countless crimes, which are quite incompatible with 
honour. They should then be asked to declare in public whether 
they are prepared to defend this state of affairs, and which of 
them can justify it. I guarantee that no-one in the world, not 
even a born criminal, would publicly associate himself with 
such a criminal system. 

It is a great mistake to assume that the moral force of the 
German people is exhausted; the fact is merely that it has been 
deliberately weakened. The only hope of salvation is to sweep 
away the secrecy and terror, to restore justice and decent 
government and so to pave the way to a great moral revival. 
We must not be shaken in our belief that the German people 
want in the future, as in the past, justice, honesty and truthful- 
ness. And as in the past too, the few degenerate elements who 
do not so wish must be kept in check by the legal power of the 
state. 

'The practical solution is to bring about the conditions, 
even if only for twenty-four hours, in which the truth can be 
told, to restore confidence in the resolve that justice and good 
government shall again prevail.' 



165 



EWALD von KLEIST-SCHMENZIN 

22 March 18909 April 1945 

EWALD VON KLEIST-SCHMENZIN grew up on his 
parents' estate at Dubberow in Pomerania. He was a lawyer 
and landowner, chairman of the District Employers' Asso- 
ciation and a member of the provincial Synod. Politically, he 
was in sympathy with the Deutschnationde Volkspartei (the 
National Party); and with the Stahlhelm movement. In 1933 
he came into collision with Hugenberg over the formation of 
a coalition Cabinet of the Nationalists and the National 
Socialists. 

He was first arrested on 1 May 1933, and kept in prison for 
a few days by the Belgard police; on 21 June he was arrested 
again and taken to Schievelbein for three weeks. 

His third arrest was the result of his connection with 
various resistance groups involved in the 20 July rising and of 
their meetings at Schmenzin, his country house. On 21 July, 
the Security Service and the military requisitioned his estate 
and Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin was taken, via Koslin, to 
Stettin, and from there on 18 August to the Gestapo con- 
trolled prison in the Lehrterstrasse in Berlin. He was 
beheaded in Plotzensee on 9 April 1945. 

The following extracts from a pamphlet he published in 
1932 bear witness to his lucid appraisal of the political situa- 
tion and to his early rejection of National Socialism : 

'Now a new faith is rammed down our throats; we are asked 
to believe that National Socialism and Hitler, and they alone, 
have, power to bring us joy and salvation; a belief which 
demands a fantastic quota of gullibility. In villages, for 
instance, where the German Nationalists and Social Democrats 
have for all their differences lived in peace, there is now war 
to the knife between the Nationalists and the Nazis. . . . 

'National Socialism is purely destructive, and gives itself 
away at every turn. Fanatical party members feel no loyalty 
but to the Party itself, and so completely disregard the advice 
or decisions of even quite unpolitical bodies or organisations. 
Officials neglect their normal duties and, in short, the basic 
principles of both private and public life are destroyed. . . . 

It is not merely a question of the open National Socialist 
agitation, which breaks all bounds for sheer unscrupulous pro- 
166 




Photo by Atelier Bieber 

vocation . . . but the whispering campaign is even more vicious. 
Even among respectable citizens the idea is gaining currency 
that after the National Socialists have seized power, any man 
will be allowed to attack, without fear of punishment, whoever 
may displease him. I am continually amazed at how few people 
recognise the danger, or even want to recognise it. 

'National Socialism would never have gained such a flying 
start if normal and patriotic citizens had openly come out 

167 

N 



against it. The attitude that National Socialism is a respectable 
national movement which happens to have a few passing 
defects, an attitude which we have condoned, has placed our 
whole future in jeopardy; and it will take all our strength to 
avert the danger. 

The promise of the Reichslandbundes, of the V.V.V., of the 
Crown Prince and others, at the second Presidential election, 
although perhaps excusable on grounds of ignorance of the 
facts, were completely lacking in political instinct and drove 
hundreds of thousands of respectable people over to Hitler; 
and so paved the way to the devil. The German National Party 
also made mistakes, and it was quite clear after Harzburg 
or when candidates for the first Presidential election were 
nominated, that a working arrangement with Hitler and 
National Socialism would never be possible. 

'Religion alone stands between us and National Socialism, 
and always will. We believe that faith in God and obedience 
to His Word must permeate our public life; National Socialism 
holds a fundamentally different view, and let me say that 
questions of dogma have nothing to do with it. 

'What it comes to is that Hitler regards as the basis of policy 
the fact that he may occasionally say something else does not 
alter the case the race and its demands. This is a crude form 
of materialism, and quite incompatible with Christianity. 
According to his theories, it is the duty of the state to encourage 
not ability, but racial characteristics. He reduces the state to 
the level of a cattle-breeder, and shows that he is quite incap- 
able of understanding its character and obligations. He does not 
recognise the fact that every race has shortcomings, which the 
state must mitigate. Hitler's first concern is the breeding of 
healthy bodies. He deliberately states that the forming of 
character is only a secondary matter. There is no point of con- 
tact with this sort of attitude. 

'In my opinion we can no longer tolerate the fiction that 
National Socialism is a national movement. This lunacy must 
be exposed, and so must the completely false picture of Hitler 
which has been built up. Apart from that I would like to ask: 
What have we in common, spiritually, with National Socialism? 

c ln the last resort we must recognise that it is the downfall 
of our nation and the deadly enemy of our way of life. Any 
decent elements there may be within its ranks will have less 
and less say. The end of a National Socialist government will 
be the same as the end of the Rienzi chaos/ 
Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin was as good as his word, and 
after the Nazis came to power refused absolutely to com- 
168 



promise. He retired from all public affairs and lived on his 
estate. He was a deeply religious man and had no fear of 
death. Just before his execution he wrote: "Who is the 
greater, who has achieved more for humanity, Caesar, or a 
simple, conscientious genuine working man, whose whole 
life has been an example of faith? I think it is the working 
man. It is worth thinking about/ 



169 



LUDWIG BECK 

29 June 1880-20 July 1944 

LuDWicBECK was born in the small town, of Biberach, on 
the Rhine. His father had broken the military tradition of his 
family by becoming an industrialist. But Ludwig Beck, after 
passing his matriculation, chose an army career. In 1911 he 
was attached to the General Staff and after the 1914-18 war 
he held several commands in the Reichswehr. In 1932, as a 
Lieutenant-General, he commanded a Cavalry Division, and 
a year later the Truppenamt. 

From 1935 to 1938 General Beck was Chief of the Army 
General Staff. The General Staff, the &ite of the German 
Army, was responsible for the preparation and conduct of all 
land warfare and he, as their Chief, was entitled and in duty 
bound to take a major part in all important military decisions. 

On 30 May 1938, Hitler made known his 'unalterable 
decision to conquer Czechoslovakia by military action in the 
foreseeable future. General Beck strongly protested. The 
Army was quite unprepared to deal with the general war 
which would be the inevitable consequence of this action, 
nor could it be sufficiently strengthened in time, particularly 
in the unsatisfactory economic conditions which then existed. 
If the Army was to engage in war, the political leaders of 
Germany must take into account the opinions of the military 
experts. 'Differences about the relation between politics and 
war, and discrepancies between political objectives and 
military potentiality, may well be the decisive step in losing 
the war itself. Not for nothing do historians tell us of wars 
which were won or lost before they began; and in the last 
resort politics were nearly always to blame/ 

General Beck's opposition to the attack on Czechoslovakia 
was not founded only on his recognition of the fact that it 
would lead to a world war and a German defeat. He was also 
angered that war should be undertaken so lightly and so 
casually at a time when there was no good reason for it. He 
knew too much about it to be able to condone a policy which 
set out to solve the 'space problem' by force. 

Beck strongly opposed LudendorfFs belief in total war. 
170 




Photo by Atelier Bieber 



Ludendorff based this belief on his experiences in 1914-18 
when, as he saw it, life had been torn asunder hy the holo- 
caust of military action and political factors had ceased to 
count; when, in the end, every effort was directed towards 
the complete annihilation of the enemy. Ludendorff there- 
fore regarded a modern war as one of annihilation between 

171 



two whole peoples total war. His politics were conducted 
in this spirit and were fundamentally belligerent. 

General Beck refused to support total war on the grounds 
that it excludes 'any moderate political objective* and cannot 
therefore lead to a 'satisfactory peace in the Bismarckian 
sense.' He was convinced that even modern war can be 
limited and controlled, 'not by technical or military measures, 
but through a policy based on moral principles which should 
prevail in all circumstances, so that war should be a political 
instrument and subordinate to politics; and by a new sense of 
morality and idealism which would govern the state and its 
relations with other nations/ It was also necessary 'that the 
political leader should be a man of integrity who must in the 
last resort be subject to his personal moral law, his 
conscience/ 

With this attitude Beck was bound to reject a policy which 
depended on the reckless use of force to its own ends and on 
ruthless indifference to the rights of other nations, which 
ultimately brought about a world-wide war of annihilation. 
At first, in 1938, he tried to organise a unanimous con- 
demnation of Hitler's policy by the Chiefs of Staff, who were 
to demand under threat of mass resignation that the war 
plans be abandoned. When this failed, because the Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the army rejected it, Beck, on 18 August, 
resigned his position as Chief of the General Staff, and was 
released from the Service three days later by Hitler, who kept 
the whole matter secret. In the following years he played a 
leading part in German resistance and was the recognised 
leader of the conspirators. On 20 Julyl944 he stood at their 
head, ready to act. In the War Office in the Bendlerstrasse, 
on the evening of the day the rising had failed, he ended his 
own life. 



172 



HANS OSTER 

9 August 18889 April 1945 

THE life story of Hans Oster begins in the security of a 
Calvinist parsonage on the banks of the Elbe. His early 
career was typical of the professional soldier. He was 
educated at lite Humanistisches Gymnasium zum Heiligen 
Kreuz in Dresden, entered a Saxon artillery regiment and in 
1917, after distinguished service at the front, was appointed 
to the General Staff. After the war the General Staff and a 
certain number of troops were deployed in Dresden, Meck-r 
lenburg and Westphalia. From 1933 onwards Oster, in the 
normal course of his career, worked in the Ministry of 
Defence, and later in the Army High Command, in its 
important but to some extent misunderstood section, the 
Abwehr. From there he chose a course which from 1943 
onwards brought hi into great personal danger and, on 
21 July 1944, into the clutches of the Gestapo. He died in 
the Flossenbiirg concentration camp four days before Allied 
troops marched in. 

The story of his life is a good illustration of the manner 
in which conscience may react to events in the modern 
world. Oster was a gentle child whose great loves were first 
his garden and later on the 'cello. In the army, it was horses 
and riding, his great passion until the end of his life. After 
the 1914-18 war, when he was a gay and elegant General 
Staff Officer, he was moved by the inevitable distress and 
misery of the post-war years. In the streets of Dresden he 
saw hungry men, with their women and children, and the 
Communist agitation among them. He was a witness to the 
murder of the Saxon War Minister, himself a working man, 
who was thrown into the Elbe by a raging mob, and drowned. 
The Reichswehr often had to open fire, but soldiers and the 
Salvation Army also brought first aid, and field kitchens 
stood on the street corners. Oster took part in all this and 
it was then, according to his son Achim, that he came to two 
important conclusions : that 'the professional soldier should 
be a convinced pacifist, because he knows war and therefore 
also understands the responsibility it entails', and secondly 

173 



that 'the army should never be placed in a position in which 
it has to open fire on its own countrymen'. 

In the Catholic city of Minister, during the thirties, Oster 
watched the growth of the right-wing radicals and formed 
the conviction that National Socialism was no solution. His 
hopes lay with the steps taken by the Reich Chancellor, 
von Schleicher, to thwart Hitler. Two years later, on 30 June 
1934 von Schleicher was murdered, and Oster then decided 
to resist the Hitler regime in every possible way and as time 
went he even made use of the Abwehr to shield and protect 
the oppressed. 

When General von Fritsch was marked down as 'un- 
desirable* to the Nazis, early in 1938, Oster knew no rest 
until he had obtained for General Beck, then Chief of Staff, 
the facts of the slanderous campaign against him. From then 
on Oster and Beck worked together, and so another pro- 
fessional soldier became an open rebel. 

On one occasion he reproachfully asked a senior officer 
of the Austrian Army, later to become his friend, who 
reported to him after the German Army had marched into 
Austria: *Why didn't the Austrian Army shoot when we 

marched in? Don't you know you have been trapped bv 
. . i\> ^ 

a criminal? 

From this conviction there developed in the autumn of 
1938 a carefully prepared plan: the British were advised 
to stand fast on the question of Czechoslovakia, enquiries 
were made to ascertain which military commanders were 
ready to fight for freedom and peace; a special force was 
formed to deal with the Reich leaders; foreign countries 
were sounded to find out how a bid to re-establish justice 
would be received; and contact was made with trade 
unionists and with representatives of the Social Democrats 
so that the people might be prepared for future events. 

But everything was in vain. With the peace after Munich 
the opposition in the Army had no hope. Hans Oster, like 
so many others, believed that all hope of frustrating Hitler 
had gone. The day war broke out in Poland he greeted a 
friend in the street with the words 'Finis Germaniae'l 

Events demanded desperate decisions. It became clear 
that disaster could no longer be controlled from within, but 
that outside influences might still have some effect. When 
the deadline had been decided for the invasion by German 
174 




troops of the neutral countries whose peace and security 
had been guaranteed by the Fuhrer, Oster, believing in a 
duty greater than patriotism, warned his friends in those 
countries. He hoped that news of the violation would be 
broadcast from there before it actually took place, and that 
this would serve as an appeal to the honour of the German 
soldier, which would drive him to decisive action. But this 
hope was also vain. 

During the war years Oster took it upon himself to jog 

175 



the conscience of the Army General Staff. Whether it was a 
question of the shooting of Jews, of party orders, of eutha- 
nasia or the murder of hostages, he was determined that no- 
one should be able to say that he did not know what was 
going on. On the contrary, that they should be reminded 
time and again what kind of regime they served, what 
responsibility they took upon themselves if they did not 
work for the restoration of justice. He did not take advan- 
tage of the chances he had to save his own son, who was 
defending a hopeless position before Stalingrad, saying that 
'suffering and distress must be equally shared by all*. 

The last year of his life was only an echo of the past, 
for he saw no way by which the fate of his country could be 
divorced from its insane leadership. He still tried to help 
and conceal his friends and to make good use of his position, 
and through his efforts to help Dohnanyi after his arrest, 
he himself was removed from office and banished to Berlin. 
But it was not until 20 July 1944 that the Gestapo became 
fully aware of Oster s true r61e in the resistance. 



176 



HENNING von TRESCKOW 

10 January 190121 July 1944 

HENNING VON TRESCKOW was born in Magdeburg. He 
came from a family with a long military tradition. In the 
1914-18 war, when 17, he became a lieutenant in the 




1st Regiment Foot Guards, and after the war transferred to the 
regular army. In the early twenties he interrupted his military 
career to learn banking, and spent some time abroad. He 
returned to his regiment, spent several years of regimental 
soldiering, attended a staff course and was finally appointed 
to the General Staff. At the outbreak of war in 1939 he was 
Chief General Staff Officer of an East Prussian infantry divi- 
sion. Later, after a long period as Chief General Staff Officer 
of the High Command of the Middle Army Group, he com- 
manded an infantry regiment on the eastern front and saw 
some very heavy fighting. After this he became a Major- 
General and Chief of the General Staff of the 2nd Army, 
which he extracted from the Pripet marshes in a classic 
retreat after the collapse of the Middle Army Group on the 
Dnieper. 

Tresckow was one of the most impressive personalities in 
the military resistance movement. Simultaneously with his 
important command on the eastern front he worked un- 
ceasingly with those who were trying to arouse a group of 
officers to resist the growing abuse of the Wehrmacht, and 
who planned the repeated attempts on Hitler's life. After 
the failure of the attempt on 20 July, he committed suicide. 



According to Bernd von Kleist, Tresckow grew up to be a 
God-fearing man with a strong sense of duty and a great 
respect for tradition. He was modest and loyal, and com- 
bined these qualities with a clear grasp of affairs which went 
beyond the military field and which was all the stronger for 
his years in civilian life and for the time he spent abroad. 

If Tresckow had any illusions about Hitler's solemn vows 
that the 'national revolt' would proceed along the path of 
right and honour, they were quickly dispelled at the Potsdam 
meeting of March 1933. For a man of his kind there were 
no half measures, and so he was to be found in the resistance 
camp at a very early stage. 

It soon became clear that Tresckow was in a unique position 
to take a leading part in the work of the military Fronde 
and to convert others to its cause. The decisive factors were 
his own principles which, consistently as he might follow 
any course he had chosen, he never betrayed in the fight 
against the enemy, either internal or external. For this 
178 



reason the personal decisions which the ominous situation 
demanded of him were particularly hard, for he struggled 
with them alone, preferring not to burden others with his 
problems. 

But he often talked with trusted friends in the Middle 
Army Group at Smolensk about the possibilities of freeing 
his country. In all these discussions, anxiety about the 
position on the eastern front was confused with the funda- 
mental political tension. There existed always the conflict 
of conscience with which a soldier must contend if he opposes 
his government during a war; if, in fact, he has the high moral 
sense which in the final analysis leaves him no choice in the 
struggle between his honour as a soldier and his sense of 
responsibility for the future of his country. 

Tresckow was well aware of the risk involved in the attempt 
to overthrow Hitler, but he was uninfluenced by current 
opinion or by the chance of success. His conduct was 
governed by his sense of historical responsibility and by the 
belief that he was called upon to help his country in an 
hour of need. After the failure of the attempt on Hitler's life 
and in spite of Nazi propaganda against the men of 20 July, 
his former subordinates stood by him, down to the youngest 
soldier, their love and respect unchanged. A strong argu- 
ment for their belief in his integrity. 

In spite of, and perhaps because of, the demands he made 
of people, Henning von Tresckow was a wonderful friend/ 
declared the former Colonel von Gersdorff : 'He asked a lot 
of his subordinates and was capable of severe reprimand, 
but he gave to everyone with whom he had dealings a feeling 
of security, for he seemed to know all their needs, public 
and private. He was always aware of other people's feelings 
and was incapable of hurting their dignity'. 

Schlabrendorff, in his book Offiziere gegen Hitler (Officers 
against Hitler) records Tresckow's words on the night before 
his death : 'God once promised Abraham that he would not 
destroy Sodom if there were but ten just men in it. I hope 
that God will not destroy Germany. We cannot complain 
about our death. Those who joined us were prepared to face 
death. The moral strength of a man begins at the point at 
which he is ready to give up his life for his convictions'. 



179 



ULRICH-WILHELM GRAF 
SCHWERIN von SCHWANENFELD 

21 December 190&-8 September 1944 

ULRICH-WILHELM GRAF SCHWERIN VON SCHWANENFELD 
was born in Copenhagen, the son of a German diplomat. He 
inherited land in Mecklenburg and in West Prussia. As an 
officer he served in the war from 1939 until 8 September 1944 
when he stood before the People's Court and told Freisler 
that he had become an opponent of the system on account "of 
all the murders inside and outside German/. 
* * * 

Ulrich-Wilhelm Schwerin was studying at the Institute of 
Technology in Munich at the time of the Hitler Putsch in 
1923. He took an active part in the fight against Putschisten 
and from then on had no use for National Socialism. With 
the same determination he refused to join a student Korps. 
Later on he studied at Breslau University, where he took 
his diploma in 1925, and it was there that he came across 
three former school friends, Peter Graf von Yorck, Albrecht 
von Kessel and Botho von Wussow, who were concerned, as 
he was, to see political reform on a basis of Christianity and 
social justice. 

As the years went on Schwerin became increasingly 
interested in politics. In 1932 he expressed grave doubts 
about the re-election of Hindenburg as President of the 
Reich and about the mounting radicalism of the Nationalists. 
When Hitler came to power he had no doubt about the 
coming catastrophe and with the friends who shared his 
convictions, men like Adam von Trott zu Solz, Eduard 
BrucWmeier and Josias von Rantzau, was determined to do 
everything possible to avert it. As early as 1935 Schwerin 
was of the opinion 'that the only hope for the liberation of 
Germany from the National Socialists is the death of Hitler, 
which must be brought about by force'. 

From then on he made every effort to contact other re- 
sistance groups and was soon in touch with Oster, Dohnanyi 
and their circle; he was a great personal friend of Witzlebeu 
180 




and of other officers in the military resistance, and during the 
Sudeten crisis he, a civilian, became the main link between 
the military and civilian groups that wished to overthrow 
Hitler. His son, Christian, writes : 

'Shortly before Chamberlain went to Munich a last meeting 
took place in our house at Gohren, when the final directives for 
the overthrow of Hitler were settled, but Chamberlain's surpris- 

181 



ing flight to Munich made it impossible for us to put the plan 
into action. In spite of their great disappointment my father 
and his friends started work on new plans. My father was 
also involved in the scheme to remove Hitler on the occasion 
of his visit to the Siegfried Line early in 1939. 

'At the outbreak of the war, he was called up and took part 
in the Polish campaign. When it was over he became Assistant 
Adjutant to Witzleben and continued his political activities by 
serving as liaison between Witzleben and other generals. 

'My father, Oster and other close friends worked out the 
plan for the attempt on Hitler' s life in the spring of 1942, but 
after Witzleben's dismissal he too lost his post because he was 
"not sufficiently reliable from a political point of view". He 
went to Utrecht for a time but soon moved to Berlin, at Oster's 
request, where in various capacities he gave all his energies to 
preparation for the overthrow of the regime. His work at that 
time brought him into close touch with Leber, Leuschner and 
Mierendorff. 

'During the final months of preparation, immediately before 
20 July 1944, my father was quite conscious of the fact that 
the removal by force of the National Socialist regime could 
no longer ward ofi catastrophe for Germany. But in spite of that 
he believed that, even if the plan should miscarry, the attempt 
would at least prove there were men for whom no sacrifice was 
too high to be rid of the spiritual disease of National Socialism/ 

Graf Schwerin's letter to one of his sons on his confirmation, 
dated 6 April 1944, is characteristic : 

In such times of suffering and general confusion we all need 
an anchor, and great inner strength, and there is no doubt that 
the teachings of Christ, which have been valid for nearly 2,000 
years, give us that inner strength. Every day and every hour, 
demands are made on us and we must do our duty, but it is 
not always easy to decide where our duty lies. When you are 
faced with a choice, choose always the harder course and you 
may be sure that you have chosen right. You see, it is very 
hard to do one's duty, no matter if it is the duty of a boy or a 
soldier, of a professional man or a housewife. Today, in the 
war, the final sacrifice is demanded every day, for every day 
it is the duty of the soldier to give up the best he has to give, 
his life. But it would be wrong to regard duty only as a burden. 
I want you to remember something your grandfather often said, 
that duty was his pleasure. Whoever looks upon duty in that 
light will, whatever the circumstances, be able to draw from it 
great strength'. 

182 



On the evening of 20 July 1944, when Ukich-Wilhelm 
Schwerin was led away from the Bendlerstrasse, handcuffed 
to Eugen Gerstenmaier, he said to him : In the last resort, 
what more can we do than die for our cause?' He was sen- 
tenced to death, and executed later in the day. 



183 



PETER GRAF YORCK von 
WARTENBURG 

13 November 19048 August 1944 

THE name of Yorck conjures up the Napoleonic wars. On 
30 December 1812, General Hans David Ludwig von Yorck, 
an officer who had always and obediently served his king, 
acted quite without the king's consent and led the Auxiliary 
Corps which he commanded away from the ranks of the 
Napoleonic troops which were then streaming back from 
Russia; then on his own responsibility Yorck concluded the 
Convention of Tauroggen with the Russian enemy, an act 
which became the signal for the national war of indepen- 
dence. 

On 7 and 8 August 1944, his great-grandson, Peter Yorck, 
stood before the People's Court in Berlin to answer the 
charge of taking part in the revolutionary attempt of 20 
July. He spoke up fearlessly and told the Court what had 
been the reason for his conflict with National Socialism : The 
main thing was the tyrannical demand of the state on the 
citizen, which totally ignored his religious and moral obli- 
gations towards God/ 

* * * 

Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg was born on 13 Novem- 
ber 1904 at Klein-Oels, in Silesia. He studied law and 
political science in Bonn and Breslau, began his career as 
legal adviser to the Breslau Administration and later became 
an official with the Commissioner for Price Control in Berlin. 
In the war he took part in the Polish campaign and after 
1942 was employed in a government office in a job which 
gave him good opportunities to make many new contacts 
for the German opposition, both in Berlin and on the various 
trips he had to make in the course of his duties. He was one 
of the founders of the Kreisau group and a dose friend of 
Helmuth Moltke, and he worked on plans for a future re- 
organisation of the state, based on greater de-centralisation 
and more responsibility for the Lander. On 20 July, Yorck 
was among the group which went to work in the War Office 
184 




in the Bendlerstrasse. He was also among the first to be 
arrested and executed on 8 Aucust 1944. 

In the last few hours of his life he wrote to his mother : 

'At the end of a life which was more than blessed with love 
and friendship, I feel only gratitude towards God and humility 
in bowing to His will. It is a great sorrow to me that I am 
causing you this pain after all you have had to suffer. I beg 
you to forgive me. I have had more than two weeks in which 
to put myself and my actions before God and I believe I shall 
find in Him a merciful Judge. People who are wrapped up in 

185 



other convictions which I cannot share, will never understand 
the spiritual suffering that people like myself have had to 
undergo in the past few years. But may I assure you that not a 
single ambitious thought, no lust for power has influenced me 
in what I have done? It was solely my feeling for my country, 
the anxiety I felt for the Germany that has emerged from the 
past 2,000 years, concern for her development, external and 
internal, that prompted my actions. That is why I can look my 
ancestors, and my father and brothers, in the face. Perhaps the 
day will come when our actions will be judged differently, when 
we shall be looked upon not as scoundrels but as patriots who 
uttered the warning cry. I pray that this wonderful call to 
action may be our chance to do honour to God/ 

He also wrote to his wife : 

'We have probably reached the end of our beautiful, rich 
life together. Tomorrow the People's Court will sit in judgment 
over me and the others. I hear that the Army has cast us out; 
well, they can strip us of our uniform but they can't kill the 
spirit that moved us. And in it I feel at one with our ancestors, 
relations and friends. This must be regarded as one of God's 
inscrutable decisions which I myself accept in all humility. I 
believe I have gone some way to atone for the guilt which is 
our heritage, and that is why I am confident of finding God a 
merciful Judge. When we came away from our last Com- 
munion, I was aware of an almost uncanny sense of revelation, 
I might even call it nearness to Christ Looking back, it seems 
like a call. 

'I hope my death will also atone for all my sins, that it will 
be a sacrifice for what we have all had to bear. May it con- 
tribute to God becoming a little less remote in these days. I 
too, am dying for my country, and even if it seems to all 
appearances a very inglorious and disgraceful death, I shall 
hold up my head and I only hope that you will not believe this 
to be from pride or delusion. We wished to light the torch of 
life and now we stand in a sea of flames/ 



186 



6 CHRISTIANITY 

THE individual steps forward from the ranks to sacrifice 
himself for others : this is the theme which emerges from the 
photographs taken at the trial, which underlies this whole 
story of resistance to tyranny, which is the embodiment of 
the Christian spirit and which finds expression in the great 
part played by the Christian Churches in the struggle with 

The Protestant Church was itself rent by the conflict from 
the beginning, for in 1932 a movement known as the 
'Protestant National Socialists' or alternatively as the 
'German Christians' was formed within its framework. This 
was an attempt to adapt Church teaching to political atti- 
tudes, and to the same ends the Nazis tried to establish a 
Protestant National Church, to which the 28 Land churches 
would be 'co-ordinated'. In the event the struggle for the 
establishment of a national Church was synonymous with 
the struggle for the true doctrine. 

The fact that many people felt the need for unification 
among the Protestant Churches in Germany was an initial 
asset to the National Socialists, and their avowal of 'positive 
Christianity' had some effect. But it soon became clear that 
they regarded the Churches as useless bourgeois institutions 
and merely hoped to exploit them for their own purposes and 
to present the picture of the progressive assumption of 
power in a pseudo-Christian frame. The ceremonial opening 
of the new Reichstag, after an election campaign of state- 
organised terror, took place in the Garrison Church in Pots- 
dam, on 21 March 1933. In May 1934, at a synod in Barmen, 
the Confessional Church was founded. This was not a terri- 
torial Church, but a movement within the Protestant Church 
to counter the false doctrines which threatened it. At this 
point the regime dropped even the 'German Christians' and 
from then on state measures were directed not at the recon- 
ciliation of the Church with the National Socialist Weltan- 
schauung, but at the subordination of all things Christian. 

The attempt to oppress the Catholic Church was at first 
a little more circumspect and the negotiations which 
followed the Reich Concordat of 1933 gave some protection 

187 



for the time being. But attacks on the Church, and the 
persecution of those who professed allegiance to it, steadily 
increased; and the Papal Encyclical With grave Concern, 
which was read to the faithful from the pulpits in 1937, was 
tantamount to a declaration of war. Both Churches suffered 
confiscation, restriction and persecution, and both chal- 
lenged the policies and ideologies of the state. They opposed 
the biological creeds and the idolising of the German people. 
They protested against the Oath of Allegiance and its claim 
to impose unconditional obedience not to God, but to man, 
and against the anti-Christian teaching given to the young, 
the arbitrary methods of the Gestapo, the horrors of the 
concentration camps and the ill-treatment of the population 
of occupied territories. They also protested most violently 
against the murder of incurables. 

Many individual clergy and priests became widely known. 
The outspoken sermons of Father Rupert Mayer sent him 
to a concentration camp as early as 1936; today, he is 
honoured as a Saint in Bavaria; he died in 1945, soon after 
his liberation while taking a service. Pastor Schneider 
Dickenschied, the 'preacher of Buchenwald', never ceased to 
protest against the crimes of the regime, right up to the time 
of his death after many years in a concentration camp. Father 
Franz Reinisch, an Austrian, who was denied his calling first 
by the Gestapo ban on preaching in 1940 and then by his 
conscription into the army, refused to swear an Oath of 
Allegiance to Hitler and was executed in 1942. Pastor 
Niemoller's sermons in the Dahlem Church in Berlin, for 
which he had to spend eight years in a concentration camp, 
will never be forgotten. Nor will the sermons in Minister of 
Bishop Graf von Galen, who maintained from the pulpit that 
Christianity was an integral part of the German character 
and of German history, and laid bare the hollow nationalism 
of the Nazis : 

'Grow strong. Stand firm. Remain steadfast. Like the anvil 
under the blows of the hammer. It may be that obedience to 
God and loyalty to conscience will cost you or me our lives, 
our freedom or our home. But let us rather die than sin. May 
the mercy of God, without which we can do nothing give us 
that strength/ 

In the trial of strength, theologians were bound to re- 
188 



examine the problems of Christianity in practice. In par- 
ticular the Protestant Church, which up to 1918 was closely 
tied to the state, had to revise its attitude on the proper 
relation between them. One of its theologians, Dietrich 
Bonhoeffer, went so far as to approve active resistance until 
the tyrant had been deposed : 

"Any person in a responsible position who takes the blame 
upon himself, and no responsible person can do otherwise, must 
ascribe the guilt to himself and to no-one else. Must accept 
absolute responsibility, not out of wanton revelry in his own 
power, but knowing that he is bound to make this choice and 
that in so doing he can rely only on mercy. He can justify him- 
self to other men on grounds of necessity; in judging himself, 
his own conscience will acquit him; but before God he can 
but hope for mercy/ 



189 



ERICH KLAUSENER 

25 January 188530 June 1934 

LIKE his father Erich Klausener went into the Prussian 
Civil Service, and became a Regierungsassessor in the 
Ministry of Commerce. On 1 August 1914, when he had just 
been married, he went to the front. He was recalled in 1917 
to take over the office of Chairman of the District Council in 
Adenau (Eif el). In 1919 he became Chairman of the industrial 
district of Recklinghausen, in 1924 head of a department in 
the Ministry for Welfare in Berlin, and in 1926 Chief of the 
Police Department of the Prussian Ministry of the Interior. 

He had meanwhile become well known for his work in the 
Catholic Lay Movement and had been leader of the Catholic 
Action in the diocese of Berlin since 1928. On 2 February 
1933, he was forced to resign his office. He was then 
employed in the Reich Ministry of Transport. 

By 25 June 1933, National Socialism had already en- 
croached upon the freedom of the Churches, had labelled 
the Catholic Workers' Association as Subversive* and had cast 
doubts on the purpose of all and any Catholic societies. Even 
so, 45,000 people came to the vast stadium in Berlin and 
they came without swastikas. 

In the next edition of the Volkischen Beobachters, Alfred 
Rosenberg wrote in a leading article : 'As in the past, the 
Roman Catholic Conference in Berlin was a tremendous 
success; and had it been nothing more than an ecclesiastical 
convention, we should have had no cause to criticise/ 

But there was one sentence in Dr Klausener's speech which 
Rosenberg considered 'intolerable': If the revolution of 
national revival is not accompanied by an inner, spiritual 
revival, then all strength and all efforts have been in vain/ 

Rosenberg had understood the meaning of the words and 
replied to them : 'So the member of the Centre Party, Dr 
Klausener, regards Adolf Hitler's fourteen years of struggle 
and the great uprising of the people, the like of which is seen 
among nations only once in four hundred years, as a move- 
ment based on insufficient spiritual inspiration/ 

Erich Klausener was one of those men who, in his anxiety 
190 




to avoid national disunity, was prepared to give the benefit 
of the doubt to some of the plans of the National Socialists; 
but he had no doubt at all that a spirit other than that of 
National Socialism would have to create a new and much- 
needed moral basis. His speech at the Catholic Conference 
illustrates his attitude: 

'Nothing could be worse than for Germany, and particularly 

191 



the younger generation, to swing from liberalism to the other 
extreme, to submit to the indifferent and thoughtless regimenta- 
tion of a system based on the supremacy of the state* and let 
this therefore be our vow this day: our lives must derive their 
inspiration from the Eucharist, and this inspiration must spread 
into the farthest corners/ 

Klausener went on to say : 

Though the Church opens up to us a prospect extending far 
beyond the frontiers of our country, though her cathedral roof 
stretches out over all lands and peoples, over all races and both 
sexes, it is not some vague international movement that opposes 
national wishes, thoughts and feelings. The Catholic Church 
is universal. It espouses every people on earth. The aim and 
purpose of our Catholic organisations is to foster and preserve 
spiritual strength in Catholic citizens, and it is for this reason 
that we so passionately want them to remain in being/ 

The same evening, the telephone rang in Klausener's flat. 
Was it true, the enquirer asked, that Klausener had been 
arrested? He himself laughed about the incident. He could 
not bring himself to believe that the age of justice was past. 

A year passed. The work in the Catholic Action continued. 
New methods were considered for extending its work and 
for increasing the individual's power of resistance against 
outside pressure. Erich Klausener, in his new position as 
chief of the shipping department in the Ministry of Trans- 
port, was a dynamo of efficiency whom even the National 
Socialists were unwilling and unable to do without. 

Then came 24 June 1934. This time there were 60,000 
people at the Catholic Conference in the Hoppegarten, 
again without swastikas, but with a steadfast faith and a 
clear will to profess it. 

At the end, influenced perhaps by the atmosphere of the 
moment, but also by the tensions of the time, Erich 
Klausener spoke a few words which were not on the pro- 
gramme, but which found an echo far beyond the 60,000 
there assembled. For they were the unmistakable Catholic 
protest against growing political pressure, the racial policy 
and national arrogance. 

On the following Saturday, at 1.15 p.m., Erich Klausener 
was shot dead in his office. This was 30 June 1934, the day 
of the *gr eat purge', the day on which Hitler set out to 
192 



eliminate the potential of further resistance to his power, on 
the excuse of the so-called Rohm revolt in Bavaria. 

Who was the murderer? Goring, who 17 years later at the 
preliminary hearing in Nuremberg, admitted that he had 
wanted to meet Klausener, the Catholic leader? Heydrich, 
who sent an SS Leader to the Reich Ministry of Transport 
with clear-cut orders? Or the SS man who carried out the 
orders and recalled at his trial in 1952 in Berlin that he had 
been given the 'Klausener assignment' 17 years earlier? 

And what sort of a man had he killed? A note was found 
on his desk with a few words in his own handwriting : "Keep 
your word. Do not indulge in false pride. Be angry in a good 
cause, but never show your anger. Be straight in all your 
dealings/ 

From the preface to the Catholic Conference, 1938 : 

'Suffering and death were followed by the glorious resurrec- 
tion. That is why the Cross of suffering has become the Cross 
. of victory. There must be some power in this wood that sends 
forth life from the cross from which death has departed. This 
power is divine power. By its virtue the world will recover, the 
Easter of the resurrection will follow the bearing of the Cross. 
But only if we follow Christ in humility and obedience, only 
if we take up our Cross and show ourselves worthy of the name 
we bear/ 



(signed) DR KLAUSENER 



193 



KARL FRIEDRICH STELLBRINK 

28 October 189410 November 1943 

KARL FRIEDRICH STELLBRINK was the son of a customs 
official. After passing his matriculation he entered a Land 
Theological College and, after an interval in which he took 
part in the 1914-18 war, returning in 1917 with a crippled 
hand, passed his final examinations in 1920. For a short time 
he was curate at Barkhausen and in 1921 was ordained for 
ecclesiastical office in the overseas foreign service of the 
Protestant Land Church of Prussia. He then spent eight years 
among German settlers and their families in Brazil, returned 
to Germany with his own family in 1929 and after passing 
an oral examination, became Pastor of Steinsdorf, in 
Thuringia. On 1 June 1934, he was appointed to the 
Lutheran Church in Liibeck. 

Stoldt, a personal friend of his, and a Prior of the Evan- 
gelical Church, wrote after his death : 

'He was a man with a deep insight into life and affairs, and 
with strong instinctive powers. Although he was not an intel- 
lectual in the true sense of the word, he was a man of great 
knowledge and quickness of mind, well informed and spiritually 
more impressive than many of his clerical colleagues with an 
academic training. When we were sitting together in my 
country rectory or at his home, he loved to talk of his years in 
Brazil and of his many and varied experiences there. He often 
longed to return to the sun and freedom of that blessed land, 
to the absence of frustration in his daily life and work, to the 
wide open spaces which invited useful activity. He hated 

nothing more than the restriction of word or deed He was 

a fanatical lover of truth, who took real pleasure in getting 
down to the point and in speaking his mind; and he was a 
practical man, always at home and able to adapt himself to 
anything, with the sole exception of the Third Reich. His 
character was such, that any initial attempts to adapt himself to 
the new system or to serve it were doomed to failure . . . and 
so it was inevitable that the day would come when the Gestapo 
began to take an interest in him/ 1 

1 From Wo seine Zeugen starben ist sein Reich, Hansa Verlag Josef 
Toth, Hamburg. J 

194 




Pastor Stellbrink was arrested by the Gestapo on 7 April 
1942. Three Catholic chaplains, Johannes Prassek, Hermann 
Lange and Eduard Muller were arrested soon afterwards. 
On 24 June 1943, Stellbrink stood with these three before 
the People's Court, which had come from Berlin to Liibeck 
to pronounce the death sentence, in camera, on these four 
ministers of religion. The following day there took place the 
trial of a large group of Christian laymen, of whom eighteen, 

195 



some of them soldiers, were sentenced to long periods of 
imprisonment. 

The impetus to this trial of Christians had been given by 
one of Pastor Stellbrink's sermons, on 29 May 1942, the day 
after a bad air-raid on Liibeck, when he called on Christians 
to listen to the word of God and obey it. His words attracted 
the attention of the Gestapo, who thereupon established the 
facts of his r&le in the dissemination of the letters of Bishop 
von Galen and of the spiritual unity of the clergy, of both 
confessions, against National Socialism. 

On 25 July 1943, while in prison, Hermann Lange wrote 
on this point : "The common sufferings of the past few years 
have brought about a rapprochement of the two Churches. 
The imprisonment of the Catholic and Protestant clergy is 
a symbol both of their joint suffering and of the rapproche- 
ment. 9 

Eduard Miiller's comment was : 

That we, the people of today, find it so difficult to bear 
suffering, to take up our Cross, is because the meaning of the 
Cross and of suffering have been forgotten. It has all become 
theory; in practice we are only too ready to make conditions . . . 
otherwise we should glory in suffering for Christ and would 
willingly take upon ourselves all adversities . . . and now our 
Lord and Master is taking us to task, now he is giving us an 
idea of what it means to follow Christ/ 

On 27 January 1943, also while in prison, Johannes Prassek 
wrote : 

'In this case it is better to be out of step, to be old-fashioned, 
behind the times, anti-social, escapist, and all the other 
ridiculous propaganda words used to boost the perverted 
Weltanschauung of today. We know that our ideas and dogmas 
protect the security and welfare of mankind, that in these ideas 
of ours the law of nature is on our side, and so is the law of 
God. That knowledge gives us security and also the courage 
if need be, to say "NO" to the age of power, though we as 
individuals may well be crashed by it' 

On 31 October 1943, just before his death, Karl Friedrich 
Stellbrink wrote to his wife: 

'God condemns no man before his birth and does not take 
it upon Himself to harden any human heart. We are com- 
196 



pletely free to make our own decisions, therefore we can and 
must wish and choose, and God may fulfil our wishes. But He 
does not inspire our decisions, not even secretly; we must make 
them for ourselves, though He knows in advance. The com- 
patibility of His omniscience with our free will can be explained 
by two principles of mathematics : 1. Parallels never intersect; 
2. They intersect at infinity. These two principles are contra- 
dictory, but both are right/ 

A few days later, on 10 November 1943, the four ministers 
of Liibeck set out on their last journey, to the place of exe- 
cution in Hamburg. As convinced Christians, they went to 
their death with courage and fortitude. 



197 



BERNHARD LICHTENBERG 

3 December 18755 November 1943 

BERNARD LICHTENBERG, from Silesia, chose to become a 
priest and was ordained in 1899. He spent a short time as a 
curate in Neisse but from 1900 onwards worked in Berlin. 
During the 1914-18 war he was military chaplain to the 3rd 
Grenadier Guards Regiment and received the Red Cross 
Service Medal. After the war he became well known as a 
member of the Berlin City Council, on which he represented 
the Centre Party. In 1932 he became a Canon and in 1938 
Provost of St Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin. He lived as he 
preached, in apostolic poverty, strict asceticism and untiring 
service to his congregation. 

On 28 August 1941, Bernhard Lichtenberg, Provost of St 
Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin, sent off the Mowing letter : 

Dr Conti, Senior Physician 
The Reich Ministry of the Interior 
Unter den Linden, 72 
Berlin, NW 7 

'On 3 August 1941, the Bishop of Miinster asserted in his 
sermon in the St Lamberti Church in Miinster, that it had come 
to his knowledge that in the Reich Ministry of the Interior, in 
the office of Dr Conti, Senior Physician of the Reich, no secret 
was made of the fact that a large number of people of unsound 
mind in Germany had been wilfully killed, and were to be 
killed in future. 

'If this allegation were untrue, you, Dr Conti, would have 
long since taken proceedings for slander against the Bishop, or 
the Secret State Police would have arrested him. Even though 
God's sacred Ten Commandments be publicly ignored, the 
Reich Penal Code still has the force of law. f 211 of the Reich 
Penal Code provides : "Whosoever wilfully kills a person shall, 
if the killing be committed with malice aforethought, be sen- 
tenced to death for murder." ff!39 provides: "Whosoever 
receives reliable information of the intent to commit homicide 
. . . and neglects to inform the authorities, or the threatened 
person thereof, in good time shall be. . . punished/' 

'If the government authorities who are entrusted with pro- 
secution and punishment see no cause to intervene here, then 
198 




every German citizen whose conscience and office urge him 
so to do must raise his voice. 

This I hereby do. 

*A short time ago a bewildered mother came to my office. 
She sought my advice and help. A week before, she had 
received from a provincial mental hospital the news that her 
38-year-old son had died of furunculosis of the lip and menin- 
gitis, and had been cremated. He had only been in this 

199 



institution for a week. He had been moved there from another 
institution, which was merely a collecting point for "those under 
sentence of death". He had spent 18 years in yet another 
mental home, and a month before the doctor there had offered 
to allow him to go home. As soon as he heard this information, 
on his wife's return from a visit to the hospital, the patient's 
father had sent a registered letter agreeing to the release of his 
son, but this letter arrived too late, as the son had already been 
moved to the collecting point. A second registered letter, to the 
collecting point, also arrived too late, for the son had already 
been moved to the "place of execution". The mother went after 
him and persistently demanded her son, as agreed with the 
doctor at die first mental hospital. The doctor refused to release 
him, and the mother went home. The father, in another regis- 
tered letter, then again demanded that the son should be 
handed over immediately. In answer he received a few days 
later news of the son's death and the information that the ashes 
would be made available. Only God knows how many thou- 
sands or tens of thousands of times such cases have been 
repeated. The public is not allowed to know and the relatives 
as in this case are afraid to make a public protest lest they lose 
their freedom or their lives. 

"The burden of being an accessory after the fact to a crime 
that violates both the moral code and the laws of the state 
weigh heavily on my priestly soul. But though I am but one 
individual, I, as a human being, a Christian, a priest and a 
German, demand of you, the Chief Physician of the Reich, that 
you answer for the crimes that have been perpetrated at your 
bidding or with your consent, and which will call forth the 
vengeance of the Lord on the heads of the German people. 

1 am sending copies of this letter to the Reich Chancellery, 
to the Reich Ministries and to the Secret State Police/ 

(signed) BERNHABD LICHTENBERG 

A further letter, which Provost Lichtenberg drafted for the 
Chairman of the Fulda Episcopal Conference, Cardinal 
Bertram, in answer to a letter from one of the Ministers of 
the Reich, did not reach its destination. The Gestapo found 
and confiscated it while searching Lichtenberg's home. The 
following is an extract from that letter : 

Tn your letter of 4 August 1941, to His Eminence the 
Cardinal, you find in the joint pastoral letter of the German 
bishops cause to express the extreme surprise of the Reich 
Government at the conduct of all German bishops who took 
part in the Fulda Episcopal Conference from 24 to 26 June, 
200 



on the grounds that the bishops did not restrict themselves, as 
would in your opinion have befitted them, to notifying the 
Government of their anxieties, justified or unjustified, in a 
memorandum. You add that, had they done this, you would 
have been quite prepared to let the Cardinal (and thus all the 
German bishops) know the Government's reactions, and their 
opinion as to whether the individual points were worthy of 
consideration. 

'Herr Reichsminister, there is a sphere in which, by the will 
of the divine founder of the Catholic Church, Jesus Christ, the 
Catholic bishops require no tutelage; in which they are on the 
contrary the teachers and leaders and must call a grave and 
warning "Halt", even to the rightful governing body of the 
state: In rebus fidei et morum. 

'In this case you are hearing our views through the medium 
of a courteous letter; but it would be a great mistake to take 
that as a sign of weakness. Though the bishops seldom make 
demands, a request from the entire episcopate in rebus fidei et 
morum is in effect a demand, all the more so when it is directed 
to a temporal power which has overstepped the bounds of 
power set by God, and that not to protect the people but to 
harm them/ 

On 22 May 1942, Bernhard Lichtenberg, Provost and 
Prelate, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment by a 
Special Court attached to the Land Court, for improper use 
of the pulpit and offences against the Sedition Law. 

The following are extracts from the Judge's Summing Up : 



'On 29 August 1941, the defendant held evensong in St 
Hedwijfs Church, before a large congregation. He closed the 
service with a prayer in which he said, among other things : 
"Let us now pray for the Jews and for the wretched prisoners 
in the concentration camps, above all for my fellow clergy". 
Two women students who happened to be in church were 
offended by this and reported it. The charge is therefore that 
he, as a minister of religion and in the course of his duties in a 
Church, pronounced upon various affairs of state in a manner 
calculated to cause a breach of the peace. The defendant admits 
having made the aforementioned statements in the course of the 
evening prayer from the pulpit of St Hedwigfs Church . . . 
He states that he has included the Jews in his prayers ever 
since the synagogues were first set on fire and Jewish businesses 
closed. He was at the time outraged by such vandalism and 

201 



had therefore resolved to include the Jews in his prayers every 
evening. 



'About the middle of October 1941, the defendant found a 
printed pamphlet on his desk ... It was a copy of a pamphlet 
recently produced on instructions from the Reichsminister for 
Propaganda and distributed to all German citizens by the Local 
Groups of the National Socialist Party. The defendant imme- 
diately resolved to come out against the contents of the 
pamphlet by means of a proclamation, that is to say, by an 
announcement during divine service on behalf of all the clergy 
of St Hedwig's Church. To this end he prepared the following 
draft, which was found when he was arrested on 23 October 
1941: 

"Proclamation : An inflammatory pamphlet against the Jews 
is being distributed from house to house in Berlin. This 
pamphlet asserts that every German who supports the Jews 
out of so-called false sentimentality, even if it is by way of a 
friendly meeting, is guilty of betraying his people. Do not let 
yourselves be led astray by un-Christian ideas, but act in 
accordance with the stern commandment of Jesus Christ: 
*Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." 

in 

'In imposing the sentence it must be taken into account in his 
(Lichtenbergfs) favour that he has no previous convictions, that 
he can look back on many years of useful activity as a priest, 
that he is honoured and respected on all sides in his diocese, and 
that he played his part in the Great War. . . . 

Taking all these circumstances into consideration and in view 
of the fact that the defendant is not in the best of health and 
that any deprivation of liberty will therefore have a greater 
punitive effect on him than would normally be the case ... a 
total sentence of two years* imprisonment has been laid down, 
pursuant to f 74 of the Penal Code/ 

Provost Bernhard Lichtenberg served his two years' im- 
prisonment in Berlin-Tegel prison. But at the end of that time 
he was not released. He was moved to Dachau concentration 
camp on 3 November 1943, and died on the journey. 



202 



EDITH STEIN 

12 October 18919 August 1942 

EDITHSTEIN was born in Breslau, the daughter of a timber 
merchant. From 1911 to 1915 Edith Stein studied philosophy, 
German literature and history at Breslau and Gottingen 
Universities; she took her degree in 1916, worked for her 
Doctorate of Philosophy under Husserl, the Freiburg philo- 
sopher, and afterwards became his assistant. Her philosophical 
studies led her from atheism to a belief in God and in 1922 
she became a Catholic. From 1922 to 1931 she was a teacher 
at Speyer and made a reputation for herself with several 
significant works in the field of phenomenology and 
philosophy. Her work Husserl's Phanomenologie und die 
Phttisophie des Heiligen Thomas von Aquin (Husserl's 
Phenomenology and the Philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas) 
bridged the gap between classical and modern philosophy. 
There followed Endliches und ewiges Sein; Versuch eines 
Aufstiegs zum Sinn des Seins (Everlasting Existence; an 
attempt to reach the Purpose of Being), and Kreuzeswissen- 
schaft: eine Studie uber Johannes vom Kreuz (A study of 
St John of the Cross). In 1932 Edith Stein was appointed 
lecturer at the Deutsches Institut fur wissenschaftliche 
Pctdagogik, but was discharged in 1933 owing to her Jewish 
origin. Following a long-cherished wish, she entered the 
Carmelite convent in Koln-Lindenthal (Cologne). 

1 think I know I must still suffer much for the sake of 
Judaism/ she once said, and c at last it dawned on me that God 
had once again asked great suffering of his people, and that 
the fate of that people was also my own/ She made no word 
of complaint when she was torn away from her work at the 
height of her career, and in the Convent, as Sister Benedicta, 
she quietly pursued her secret vocation in complete dedica- 
tion to the service of God. 

Then came the great day of the final, decisive Hitler 
election/ writes the Mother Superior of the Convent, Sister 
Teresia Renata de Spiritu Sancto; and she describes how 
Tour Yes for the Fuhrer was written in large letters on every 
lime tree in the Dikener Strasse in Lindenthal. Non-Aryans 

203 



were not allowed to take part in the election, so Sister 
Benedicta was to remain behind while the other nuns, with 
archiepiscopal consent, made their pilgrimage to the polls. 
But that evening two men appeared in the office. They had 
ascertained that Dr Stein was the only nun in the Convent 
who had failed in her duty to vote; owing to indisposition, of 
course, they said; but they had a car and would be glad to 
drive her there and back. At that moment, Sister Benedicta 
had no wish to divulge her descent: 'All right/ she said 
simply, 'if the gentlemen attach such great importance to my 
voting "No", I can give them that pleasure/ 

But on 10 April 1938 things looked more serious. The 
principles of National Socialism and of Hitler's government 
had so clearly shown themselves to be anti-Christian and 
anti-God that even the simplest German could no longer be 
in any doubt as to the aims of the new regime. Meanwhile 
the power of the rulers had degenerated into a brutal reign 
of terror before which everyone trembled. In the Convent in 
Cologne there was great uncertainty as to what attitude 
should be adopted. The Secret State Police had already 
expelled from their monasteries a number of men in Holy 
Orders without warning or reason, and had cast them into 
the street without means of support. The Convent had for 
some time anticipated the same fate. If they should attract 
the attention of the authorities during the election, surely 
their fate would be sealed. For this reason many of the nuns 
were inclined to ignore well-meant advice to boycott the 
election, and most of them felt that it was quite unimportant 
whether one voted *Yes' or 'No', as the result had been fixed 
in advance by the Party and whatever happened the Nazis 
would alter the figures in each constituency to give the 
required result. 

But Sister Benedicta energetically opposed this view. 
Otherwise so gentle and yielding, she became a completely 
different person and again and again implored the Sisters not 
to vote for Hitler, regardless of the consequences either for 
the individual or for the community. He was an enemy of 
God and would drag Germany down to destruction with 
him. 

There was considerable doubt and confusion, which 
reached a peak when a delegation of the election committee 
was announced in the office of the Convent before 8 o'clock 
204 




Photo from Morns Verlag files 



on the morning of the election, just as the first group of 
Sisters were about to leave for tie polls. This had never 
happened before and the Mother Superior left the visitors in 
no doubt of her displeasure. They excused themselves by 
saying that they knew that Carmelite nuns were not allowed 
to leave their seclusion and that they therefore wanted to 

205 



help by collecting the ballot papers. The Mother Superior 
pointed out that the poll, which the nuns had never yet 
evaded, was supposed to be public, but secret. Argument 
was useless, they had to submit. The votes were cast 
alphabetically. 

At the end the chairman, who kept the electoral list, said : 
'Not everyone has voted . . / and then came the dreaded 
moment: 'And Dr Edith Stein?' 

'She is not entitled to vote/ 

'Of course she is, born in '91. She's certainly entitled to 
vote/ 

The answer came with icy calm : 

'She is not aryan/ 

The three men started. Then one of them cried, 'Write 
that down, she's not aryan/ They packed up in great haste 
and left the Convent . . . and the events of 9 November put 
the finishing touches to the story. 

In the quiet suburb of Lindenthal everything was more or 
less orderly, but news of the burning of the synagogues, the 
beating up of Jewish people and the excesses against them 
and their friends, penetrated to the Convent and filled every- 
one with horror. 

Sister Benedicta was numbed with pain. The fear that her 
presence might endanger the community gave her no peace. 

At the end of 1938 Edith Stein moved to a Convent at 
Echt, in Holland, and there she was arrested by the SS in 
January 1942. When she entered the Gestapo office in 
Maastricht, her greeting was 'Jesus Christ be praised/ Later, 
in a period of 'conditional freedom of movement/ during 
which she had to wear a yellow star to show that she was 
Jewish, she told the Mother Superior that she had been 
driven to use this greeting by the conviction that she was 
'in the midst of the ancient struggle between Jesus and 
Lucifer/ 

Her final arrest took place on 2 August 1942. Jewish eye- 
witnesses reported: 'Among the prisoners brought in on 
5 August, Sister Benedicta attracted attention by her great 
calm and composure. The distress in the camp and the agita- 
tion among the new arrivals was indescribable. Sister 
Benedicta went around among the women, consoling, help- 
ing, calming, soothing as an angel. She immediately took 
over the wretched children, washed them and combed their 
206 



hair, saw that they had food and attention. As long as she 
stayed in the camp she made of washing and cleaning a 
labour of love, and we were all amazed/ 

Then her road led her to the east. In Auschwitz camp, on 
9 August 1942, Edith Stein, No. 44074, was murdered in a 
gas chamber. 



207 



MAX JOSEF METZGER 

3 February 188717 April 1944 

MAX JOSEF METZGER grew up in the Black Forest. He 
studied theology in Freiburg, was ordained in 1911, took his 
Doctorate of Theology and spent some time as a curate in 
Mannheim, Karlsruhe and Oberhausen. He went to France 
in 1914 as a divisional chaplain, and then in 1916 became 
chaplain in charge of the People's Welfare Centre in 
Graz. He was deeply influenced by the war and soon became 
one of the leading Catholic pacifists. In 1917 he and Strat- 
mann, a Dominican, founded the 'Peace League of German 
Catholics', of which he was the Secretary-General up to his 
death. He also played an important part in the foundation in 
1938 of the 'Una Sancta Brotherhood'. 

His concern for the future of Germany induced Max Josef 
Metzger to submit to the Protestant Archbishop of Upsala, 
Dr Eiden, in 1942, a memorandum on the question of a new 
system of government for Germany, with the request that 
he should intercede with the Bishops in Allied countries to 
use their influence to make peace. This document, in which 
as a precautionary measure (as it was to be sent out of 
Germany), 'Nordland' was used instead of Germany and 
'Anti-national Party' instead of National Socialist Party, read 
as follows : 

'Germany (the united German Lander) shall be a federation 
of democratically governed free states (Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, 
etc.). Within the framework of the German Constitution each 
state shall enjoy independence in internal affairs and admini- 
stration, and in cultural and social matters. Foreign policy is 
of common concern and shall be the responsibility of the 
Federal Government. 

The Constitution shall ensure that German policy, both 
domestic and foreign, shall be a sincere policy of peace based 
on moral truth, good faith and social justice. 

The domestic peace policy shall rest on fundamental moral 
laws, on the recognition and preservation of equal basic rights 
for all citizens, on a progressive social policy (security of work, 
earnings and livelihood; nationalisation of all mines, power 
stations, railways and of real estate, including arable land, 




209 



forests and lakes; a social tax policy which shall protect the 
weak); and a just policy in questions of nationality and race (to 
include self -administration for national bodies, e.g. in respect 
of public funds for school purposes). 

* The foreign peace policy shall recognise and respect to the 
full the rights of foreign peoples and shall support, or effect, 
voluntary disarmament (except for a police force for the pre- 
servation of internal order) in favour of supra-national armed 
forces which, in the service of an impartial organisation of the 
"United States of Europe'*, shall take over the protection of 
lawful peace among the states. 

The Constitution shall guarantee to every German personal 
dignity and legal security, freedom of culture, language, con- 
science and religion; freedom of opinion and, finally, freedom 
in the possession and use of personal property, within the 
bounds necessary in the common interest, which shall be clearly 
and legally defined. 

'All Germans who can be proved guilty of contributing 
towards the national disaster and of abusing their own people, 
in common with all persons sentenced for common crimes, shall 
be deprived of civil rights for a period of twenty years (voting 
right, the right to hold public office, etc.). The complicity of all 
agents of the National Socialist Party and its affiliated organisa- 
tions and of their military self-protection organisation shall be 
presumed, until or unless their personal and political reliability 
can be proved. The national register of such persons shall be 
public. 

'Until such time as the new constitution has been approved 
on the basis of general, free national elections, legislative power 
in Germany shall be vested in the German Volkstag. The V oiks- 
tag shall consist of leading representatives of all branches of 
public life, who shall be selected initially from the German 
Order of Peace, an association of such personalities from all 
political groups and former parties who, in defence of the 
moral, social and political principals of the new peace policy, 
have proved their worth before their people and the world, 
particularly by the fact that they were prepared for the sake 
of their convictions to suffer personal disadvantage through the 
disfavour of the discredited regime. 

This political programme has been drawn up for use in the 
event of a revolution at the end of the war, during which the 
continuity of justice could no longer be preserved/ 

This document fell into the hands of a woman Gestapo 
agent; and Metzger, who had already been imprisoned for a 
time in 1936, was arrested by the Gestapo on 29 June 1943, 
210 



and condemned for Tiigh treason and for assisting the 
enemy'. For him, of course, there was 'no room' in the Third 
Reich, as Freisler made quite clear before the People's Court. 

Brother Paulus as Metzger called himself, after the apostle, 
had often spoken at the great international peace congresses 
of the post-war years in Berne, the Hague, Graz, Luxem- 
bourg and Constance; in 1921 he was the first German to raise 
his voice in Paris where he proclaimed that knowledge of 
Christian obligation demanded of every Christian that he 
live up to God's Commandments in the political sphere also. 
'That is what brings peace, that spirit of final, personal 
sacrifice, even at the cost of one's own life, just as Christ paid 
the price on the Cross; self-sacrifice for truth, justice, love 
and peace, for the kingdom of God on earth/ 

When the death sentence was pronounced on 14 October 
1943, Brother Paulus replied quite calmly: 1 should like to say 
once more that I have a clear conscience before God and 
before my people and that I have only tried to serve 
them . . . now it is done. I am at peace, I have offered up my 
life to God for the peace of the world and the unity of the 
Church/ He was executed at Brandenburg on 17 April 1944 



211 



FRIEDRICH JUSTUS PERELS 

13 November 191023 April 1945 

FRIEDRICH JUSTUS PERELS was closely connected with 
the Church from his early youth. While he was a pupil of a 
Berlin Gymnasium he belonged to a schoolchildren's Bible 
class, and as a law student in Heidelberg and Berlin he 
was a member of the Christian Student Association. After his 
first law examination in 1933 he spent most of his time work- 
ing for the Pfanernotbund and the Confessional Church. 
He died a deeply convinced Christian. Owing to the Sippen- 
haft system, his father, Dr Ernst Perels, a professor at Berlin 
University, fell victim to the Gestapo at the same time. 
* * * 

Christianity for Friedrich Justus Perels meant that God 
wished to be taken at His word, and would then make his 
people free and mould their lives. While he was working for 
the Confessional Church he therefore consistently rejected 
'German-Christian' interpretations of the scriptures and 
insisted that they should be presented unfalsified and 
unabridged, and that conclusions should be drawn accord- 
ingly. Martin Fischer remarks in an obituary that Perels 
would not allow anyone to say that it was the duty of the 
Church to serve the people. "No, not the people, but God. It 
is all too easy for a man to claim self -justification in the 
service of die people, for both he and the people may have 
long been against God/ 

Friedrich Perels rejected dishonest compromise in all its 
forms, exposed escapism and self-deception wherever he 
found them and worked with energy, intelligence and skill to 
bring clarity and decisiveness into the work of the Church, 
striving to promote unanimity within the Confessional 
Church and to defend it against encroachments by the state, 
In this and particularly in his efforts to help the persecuted, 
he was to some extent dependent on help from people (who 
were critical of the regime) in official positions, and in this 
way, and through his friendship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 
he came in contact with the various groups of the resistance 
movement socialist, conservative and confessional. Much 
212 




Photo by Atelier Steber 



later, his service to the Church, in establishing this contact, 
was recognised by Bishop Dibelius in the following words : 
*We must remember that he was the only man we still had 
in Berlin who could keep the door open to other people, 
groups and powers ... He helped us to prepare for the hour 
which was bound to come and to see its approach ... He 
taught us not to let the four walls of the catacombs in which 

213 



we were jammed together condition our thoughts and plans 
for the future. . . / 

Pastor Eberhard Bethge, a close friend and later a fellow- 
prisoner, writes of him as a Christian in everyday life : 'When 
did anyone turn to Friedrich Justus Perels in vain? From 
morning to night he was at the service of anyone who sought 
his help and was often on his feet till he was on the verge 
of exhaustion, trying to secure freedom for prisoners, to help 
relatives of people in concentration camps, to advise the 
wives of the clergy, or to help Jews to improve their lot, to 
hide them or help them to escape/ 

Perels was fully aware of the danger of all this work, but 
his own words show that he took it all as a matter of course : 
'So many people fall in battle for this system. I find it better 
to fall in battle against it/ 

His arrest soon followed, on 5 October 1944. Of his time 
in prison Eberhard Bethge reported : 

'We came across each other for the first time at the end of 
November 1944, when 1 saw him wave to me from his cell 
window while I was at exercise, and every time round he 
again climbed on his stool so that he could wave. We had no 
chance to speak to each other until March 1945, when I was 
given a job as boilerman and passed his cell at meal times. 
Meanwhile we had exchanged secret messages to let each other 
know about our interrogations. His were particularly brutal; 
for weeks he had to endure physical ill-treatment, continuous 
threats to his family and the vilest abuse. 

1 myself learnt the following facts about him : that he had 
belonged to the Freiburg Circle, with Hitter, Wolff, von Dietz 
and Bauer; that he was very closely in touch with those who 
took part in the attempt of 20 July; and that he was con- 
tinuously involved in conspiracy with Bonhoeffer and von 
Dohnanyi, and knew also the chief of the Berlin Criminal 
Police, Nebe, a staunch opponent of the regime. 

'On 2 February, he was condemned to death, nominally for 
having failed to report to the police. Riidiger Schleicher, Klaus 
Bonhoeffer, Hans John, Hans Kloss (of Vienna) and Perels were 
all tried at the same time, but only Kloss escaped with as little 
as four years penal servitude; from him I heard later that on 
the day of the trial Perels had conducted an extremely able 
defence and that he bore himself very well. 

The condemned men were transferred to my wing and I 
managed to talk with them almost every day, above all with 
Perels. He was busy all the time sending out material and 
214 



suggestions to the outside world in an effort to procure a 
re-trial, to postpone the execution and to keep in step with 
those who had been condemned with him. These efforts were 
successful, in so far as there was by Easter reason to hope that 
the execution might be stayed. Nor in fact was the order ever 
issued. For weeks Perels had tried, through official channels, 
to obtain permission to receive Holy Communion, but all efforts 
were fruitless and with the assistance of one of the guards I 
administered the last sacrament to him in secret on Easter 
Sunday. The wine came from the cell of Ernst von Harnack, 
who had been executed earlier, the wafers were given to us by 
the Jesuit Provincial Father Roesch, another prisoner. 

'The Allies were now approaching and the tension was almost 
unbearable; all the more so when on 21 April 1945, while the 
first artillery shells were falling on Berlin, die condemned men 
were handed over to the legal authorities and moved to another 
wing/ 

During the night of 22-23 April 1945, Friedrich Justus 
Perels was dragged from his cell and, like those condemned 
with him, shot in the street by a special SS contingent. 

'After die war the Church will be wiped out/ Friesler had 
screamed at Perels during the trial, which as it happened 
took place the day before he himself was killed by a bomb. 

'The Church will endure/ was Perel's firm and serene 
reply. 

Shortly before his death, Friedrich Perels wrote to his 
wife: 

Today, Good Friday, all the great solace of the Cross of 
Jesus Christ is directly before our eyes. It is a powerful and 
eternal truth that He was sacrificed for our sins and that by 
His wounds we have been saved. He gives us this certainty and 
thereby brings us happiness even in tie midst of great trouble, 
and drives away fear and suffering. This I am learning here 
in full measure. And all of you should put your faith in this 
and it should rest on nothing else/ 



215 



DIETRICH BONHOEFFER 

4 February 190&-5 April 1945 

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER was born in Breslau and was 
one of a large family. His father, Karl Bonhoeffer, was a well 
known physicist, and all manner of people came to his house 
in Berlin; religious leaders, friends of Dietrich's and in par- 
ticular the Dellbriicks and the Harnacks. 

In April 1943, the Gestapo and officials from the Military 
Court came to the house to question Dietrich Bonhoeffer and 
to search for evidence that would incriminate him and his 
friends, but it was not until after the failure of the conspiracy 
of 20 July that the incriminating evidence fell into their 
hands. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had fought hard to survive, he 
had used great ingenuity and he was always optimistic. But 
he had often said to himself and to his friends, that he who 
lives by the sword must reckon that he may also die by it. 
On 5 April 1945 he was killed in the Flossenbiirg concentra- 
tion camp. 

* * * 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an intellectual, energetic and 
sensitive. He liked to have room to breathe and was con- 
vinced that the joys and satisfactions of life depend on a few 
important decisions : they might be obvious decisions or the 
outcome of thought and conflict, in either case no further 
discussion was needed. In his own life two decisions were 
vital; the decision to go into the Church and the choice of 
the Confessional Church, and the decision to take violent 
political action which was on the face of it so flagrantly 
opposed to the traditions of his Church. 

Twice he was presented with tempting opportunities to 
evade such decisions and twice he thrust them aside. In 1935, 
in the midst of preparations for a journey to India, he was 
recalled from his position as German Pastor in England to 
take charge of an illegal training school for teachers in 
Pommerania. He was not much older than his pupils, but he 
became an inspiring teacher to a new generation of 
theologians. The personal difficulties which his work 
involved were not immediately evident. That changed in 
216 




1939, for by then he knew that he must engage in political as 
well as religious resistance, and that he must accept all 
the danger and loneliness which this entailed, because he 
could not and would not burden his Church with such 
things. In the summer of 1939, while on a lecture tour in 
the United States, he watched with anxiety and dismay 
the development of world affairs. He was offered a home, 
an office and a professorship, but he chose to return to 
Germany. 

217 



A passage in his diary reads : In everything I do I miss 
Germany, my own people ... I cannot understand why I am 
here . . . The short prayer in which we remembered our 
German colleagues was almost too much for me ... In the 
event of war I do not want to find myself here . . . Since I 
have been on board ship, I am no longer in two minds about 
the future/ 

Later, from his cell, he wrote to his friend Eberhard 
Bethge : 1 reckon the fact that I sit here is part of my share 
in the fate of Germany, a share which I am resolved to 
accept/ And so with a few clear-cut decisions he committed 
himself beyond retreat, and in doing so found a great inner 
freedom. He was free to meet people of all kinds and con- 
victions, and approached them in an encouraging, undog- 
matic and resourceful manner; to take holidays whenever 
the opportunity occurred, to lose himself in playing the 
music he loved best, the masters before Bach, and the great 
classics. He had zest for life and the capacity to impart it 
to others. He was a good teacher because there was nothing 
of the lecturer about him, a convincing talker because he 
never expected other people automatically to agree with 
him. 

During his two years in prison, Bonhoeffer occupied him- 
self with theological writings, and his profound experience 
found expression in his letters and poems. The following are 
extracts from a fragment of a letter, unpublished, which he 
wrote in Tegel prison in 1943 : 

*Even if you must scorn life in order to master it, at least do 
not forget to love it once you have done so. Beware of speaking 
too lightly of happiness and of flirting with misery : that is the 
negation of living, an abuse of man as he was created and as 
he lives his life, a poor sinner yearning for happiness as a slight 
sign of friendliness from God. It is not so easy to be unhappy, 
and he who is so does not scorn or abuse the man who is happy. 
There is no good reason to be willing to bear misery unless it 
is to make other people happy. Unhappiness comes of itself, or 
rather from God, and we have no need to run after it. To 
become unhappy is fate. But to want to be unhappy is blas- 
phemy, and a grave spiritual illness. 

'History, like nature, develops an excess of force to attain a 

necessary but modest goal. History adopts extravagant measures 

to preserve mankind and mobilises immense forces to bring 

home to man one single, essential truth. We see and regret what 

218 



seems to us a mad disproportion between senseless sacrifice 
and moderate success, but we should never underestimate even 
the most modest achievement. It is like the one chestnut among 
a thousand, which quietly puts forth roots into the ground and 
in its turn bears fruit. 



219 



THEO HESPERS 

12 December 19039 September 1943 

THEO HESPERS* life led him from the peaceful security of 
a middle-class Catholic family on the Lower Rhine into the 
glare of the political arena, by way of the youth movement, 
and on to an early death. In his schooldays he was a 
member of the 'Quickborn Catholic youth organisation and 
was an enthusiastic hiker. He passed his lower school-leaving 
certificate and then became a business apprentice. But the 
problems of the post-war generation caught and held his 
attention, so that his work with the youth organisation 
rather than his actual profession became his prime interest 
in life. 

At the age of nineteen, out of youthful enthusiasm and 
patriotic sentiment, Hespers joined in the fight against the 
Separatists in the Ruhr and on the Rhine, and was arrested 
by the Belgians. Three years later he joined both the West- 
mark Boy Scouts and the Christian-Social movement, and his 
intense interest in fundamental social and human problems 
came to the fore. As a left-wing Catholic he was involved in 
violent disputes with the Nazis even before the seizure of 
power, and in 1933 he was forced to emigrate to Holland. 
His political work on the frontier at Roermond led to a com- 
plaint from the German authorities, and as a result he had to 
move to North Brabant. 

The trial in Essen of the Jungnationden Bund of the Youth 
Federation, in June 1937, caused great excitement among 
Netherlands youth organisations, and the climax came when 
Hans Bockling was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment. 
This trial led to a widespread demand for support for German' 
youth in their struggle against dictatorship, and also to the 
founding in Brussels and Amsterdam of the magazine 
Kameradschaft, of which Theo Hespers and Hans Ebeling 
were the publishers. 

'Catholic youth has too high a conception of national unity 
and freedom to sacrifice itself and its ideas to Nazi 
demagogy. For them such unity does not lie in the destruction 
of the individuality of Churches, races and classes, but in 
220 




active co-operation and in mobilising all available forces for 
the common task : of reviving the life of the people on a truly 
ethical and social basis. It is quite clear that free-will and 
not force is the pre-requisite of freedom/ was Theo Hespers' 
message to German youth in 1938, in Kameradschaft. "We 
shall never do what is required of us if we throw in our hand 
and retire into the ghetto I Terror, or fear of breaking the 
law, must never deter us from our duty as Christians/ 

221 



Hespers' attitude rested on his Catholic faith, on his belief 
in federation, and he explains it further : 

'In the German youth movement we have always been very 
critical of the old parties, the cultural and religious bodies. In 
some respects this attitude is open to criticism. Whenever we 
took it upon ourselves to infuse some life into the existing 
system, we insisted on keeping our distance, so that our per- 
sonal attitude should not be compromised. It may be worth 
while to explain once more why we criticised and repudiated 
so many organisations whose aims and aspirations were pro- 
bably admirable : at whom, then, was our Christianity directed? 
Was it the ideas or the people? We can answer unequivocally 
that it was both the people and the half-hearted manner in 
which the ideas were put into practice. We observed that 
socialists took no decisive action for social reform, that 
nationalists had before their eyes not the welfare of the nation, 
but personal goals, that Catholics lacked the broad view ex- 
pected of the universal Church, that the representatives of 
Christianity were not bound by the doctrine of brotherly 
love. ... 

'None of the leading cultural and political groups which 
existed in 1933 found the strength to prevent the seizure of 
power by this despotic regime, or was itself able to survive. 
What was the fundamental reason why there was no adequate 
resistance to prevent the onslaught of total barbarism? Were 
the German people too immature, or unwilling to fight for free- 
dom? Were too few of the right people in positions of power? 
No, those were not the decisive factors. What was lacking 
among the leaders in every sphere was conviction, the sense of 
responsibility and readiness to make sacrifices for their own 
cause. . . . 

'The German people, too often deceived and betrayed and 
now caught up in a system of organised mistrust, are too 
thoroughly disillusioned to rally again from one day to the 
next, to some cheap slogan. So the most important and the 
most difficult job will be to re-establish mutual trust among 
Germans. But this work can be done only by people and groups 
who carry no guilt, past or present, and who can evoke con- 
fidence by their personal conduct and reputation.' 

After German troops marched into Holland in May 1940, 
Hespers managed to reach Dunkirk. The British were pre- 
pared to take him with them, but not to accept responsibility 
for his wife and child during a military retreat. So he stayed 
in Belgium with his family and lived quietly in the country, 
222 



under an assumed name, helped by friends in the Belgian 
youth movement. But in February 1942 he was recognised, 
arrested and taken to the Central Security Office of the Reich 
in Berlin. Soon afterwards, he was condemned to death. 

Theo Hespers was hanged on 9 September 1943, after an 
air-raid on Plotzensee prison. Two hundred and fifty other 
condemned prisoners were put to death at the same time, as 
there was a shortage of space for new admissions. 



223 



ALFRED DELP 

15 September 19072 February 1945 

ALFREDDELP was the eldest of the six children of a health 
insurance official in Baden. He attended the elementary 
school, and went over to the Catholic faith at the age of 
fifteen. He was then prepared for a higher education by the 
Pastor of Lampertheim, and within three years he matricu- 
lated and entered the Jesuit Order. In 1937, he was ordained 
as a priest, having meanwhile obtained his Doctorate of 
Philosophy. 

From 1937 to 1941 he did a certain amount of teaching 
himself and worked part-time for the Stimmen der Zeit. This 
last activity led to several weeks' imprisonment, even at that 
early stage. 

From 1941 to 1944 he was one of the clergy at St George's 
Church, Munich-Bogenhausen. The papers he wrote in 
prison, Im Angesicht des Todes (In the Face of Death) round 
off his former works : Tragische Existenz (The Tragedy of 
Existence), Der Mensch und die Geschichte (Man and 
History), Zur Erde entschlossen (Earthbound) and Der 
machtige Gott (The Power of God). 

The common fate, my personal situation, the decision of the 
- next few days; it all adds up to one thing: surrender yourself 
unto your God and you will find yourself again. Now you are 
in the power of others; they torture and terrify you and drive 
you from one extremity to the other. Then the voice of free- 
dom sings : for us death has no sting. For it is life that goes 
forth into infinity. . . . 

'One thing I have learnt during these weeks of confinement 
is that the man who is not capable of vision and freedom in his 
own mind is at the mercy of his surroundings, of circumstances 
and of tyrants. Whoever is not at ease in an atmosphere of 
freedom, which is unaffected by outside powers and conditions, 
is truly lost 

'. . . The hour of the birth of human freedom is the hour of 
meeting with God/ 

These words were written by Father Alfred Delp at the 
turn of the year 1944-45, while he was in prison awaiting sen- 
224 




Photograph tahtn in the People's Court 



tence. At the wish of his provincial superior, Father Rosch, 
he had readily taken part in the conferences of the Kreisau 
circle in order to help with preparations for a new order in 
Germany after the collapse. His special task was the problem 
of a Christian social order, a subject to which he had devoted 
himself earlier while in charge of the sociological department 
of the Stimmen der Zeit, the Jesuit publication. 

Even in prison he was still pre-occupied with these 
matters. The starting point in his deliberations was the god- 
lessness of modern man which, to his mind, could not be 



overcome merely by the preaching of the Gospel. 1 can 
preach as much as I like, and handle people skilfully or 
unskilfully and set them on the right path again as long as I 
please; so long as he is forced to live in humiliating and 
inhuman conditions, the average man will succumb to 
circumstances and neither pray nor think. A fundamental 
change in living conditions is necessary. Delp therefore 
demanded of the Church that it should not restrict itself to 
its religious interests, but 'concern itself with the secular 
needs of mankind and with humanitarian order'. 

For him a healthy social order was of course only a *basic 
pre-condition to his true aim. It was merely intended to 
create conditions in which it would be possible to educate 
mankind to 'independence, responsibility, judgment and 
conscientiousness*. The intention was that man should 
thereby acquire a degree of 'spiritual alertness and personal 
vitality' that would render him 'able once more to com- 
prehend the name and word of God, once more to recognise 
and consummate God's Holy Order*. For Delp, social reform 
was not an end unto itself, but a step towards the 'education 
of man for God'. 

For his collaboration with the Kreisau circle Father Delp 
paid with his life. On 2 February 1945 he was killed in 
Berlin *by the enemies of the faith', as they are called on his 
memorial tablet in the St. Blaise Jesuit College. He was 
always alive to his responsibility for the common lot, and this 
he proved in life and death. 

'To profess Christianity and to aspire to be a Christian 
today involves readiness to accept responsibility for every- 
thing. In these times God does not expect a man to appear 
before him bringing only his own desires and presenting only 
his own private anxieties. In times in which God is at odds 
with man over the fundamental order of existence, the Lord 
our God demands a man of generous heart, of great 
responsibility, who can really take his place before Him and 
shoulder the whole heavy burden/ 



226 



HANS-BERND von HAEFTEN 

18 December 190515 August 1944 

HANS-BERND VON HAEFTEN was born in Berlin, the son 
of an army officer. He studied law, first in Germany and after 
his finals as an exchange student in Cambridge. He then 
worked first at the German Consulate-General in Geneva, and 
then as secretary of the Stresemann Foundation. 

In 1933 he entered the German Foreign Service and served 
in Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna and Bucharest. In 1940 he 
came back to the Foreign Office in Berlin, and was later 
appointed Counsellor in the cultural department. In those 
days he was in close touch with Adam von Trott zu Solz and 
Adolf Reichwein. 

Haeften had in the past worked with the Berneuchen 
circle in their efforts to revive interest in the Church, and 
after his return to Berlin began to take part in the delibera- 
tions of the Kreisau circle. 

For this, his part in resistance, he was condemned to death 
by the People's Court on 15 August 1944, after his brother 
Werner, Stauffenberg's Adjutant, had been shot on 20 July, 
and was executed a few hours later. The Gestapo had mean- 
while taken his wife away from her five children, the 
youngest a baby, and she like other women and children of 
the men who took part in the revolt was held for several 

weeks. 

* * * 

*When I think of Hans-Bernd von Haeften/ writes Marion 
von Yorck, 1 see no very clear outline. He was a man of 
delicate constitution, and it was really his eyes which were 
arresting. They betrayed the sensitivity of soul and con- 
science. He had a penetrating intellect and a great gift for 
argument, but was at his best on paper. He was a good friend 
and a devoted father and I can best imagine him among his 
family/ 

In his book Geist der Freiheit (Spirit of Freedom), Eber- 
hard Zeller says of Haeften : 

'What was happening in Germany was to him an onslaught 
from a crazy godless world, against which so much that had 

227 



seemed stable and enduring crumbled to dust, but he was for 
ever concerned as to how the normal relationship between 
men and their rulers might be rescued from this political 
travesty. He was a tall, good-looking man, anxious always to 
do what was good and right and acutely conscious both of 
his own failings and of the sins of the world/ 

As a convinced Christian, Hans-Bernd von Haeften 
rejected National Socialism long before his co-operation with 
the Kreisau circle began, and his uneasiness of conscience 
comes out in a letter written to his friend Herbert Krimm in 
May 1941, from which the following is an extract : 

'I am entirely of your opinion that the Church should exert 
an influence by its mere existence, and though it should not 
itself take an active part in politics or busy itself in secular 
matters, it is entirely responsible in the spiritual sphere. And 
if in the order or disorder of things, events or conditions occur 
which endanger the spiritual salvation of man, if politics place 
citizens in situations which as Christians they cannot accept, 
we come to the inevitable crossroads of Church and State; 
inevitable because both deal with the same people, and because 
these people cannot be split into citizen and Christian. But at 
such points of intersection, which may be more or less obvious, 
critical, or decisive, the Episcopate does not expect the Church 
to watch in silence without lifting a finger. This is the time to 
speak and to admonish. When the Christian peoples are beset 
by the madness of political demons, as they are today, the 
Church must be heard in public and must bear witness before 
the whole world. This is a part of the nature of the Church, 
that it shall by its very existence influence the world. 

*But it takes more than this to make a Court Chaplain: and 
this applies to all you who are learned theologians, professional 
Christians so to speak. For if a man who has to deal with 
worldly matters asks your advice as to how he, as a Christian, 
can best solve this or that problem, then you must be capable 
of giving him a useful and practical answer. 

The theologian should also be in a position to give advice 
sub specie fidei christianae, not specifically as a representative 
of the Church, for the Church has to deal with unchangeable 
tenets of faith and not with empirical advice on worldly affairs, 
which must vary in time and space according to a thousand 
chances of history. But if not only the individual but also "the 
governments and principalities were created by Him and unto 
Him", if, that is, the earthly Kingdom also receives its final 
sanction from God; if it is the ultimate aim of politics to pre- 
228 




Photograph taken in the People's Court 

pare for the world that is to come, to serve and to rule the 
people in such a manner that they shall inherit the Kingdom 
of Heaven, then Christian statesmen must be able to come to 
the Church for advice. 

'It is this fusion of time and eternity, of heaven and earth, 
that Augustine meant when he spoke of the cMtas Dei. 
Catholicism has preserved this tradition more clearly but in 
my own opinion, has drawn the wrong conclusions, in develop- 
ing Church doctrines which are to be binding for all time, in 

229 



all social conditions, in every state and society; when in fact the 
putting into practice of the Christian faith in daily life must 
depend on secular institutions and the manner of doing so must 
vary with changing historical situations. Protestantism has a 
greater freedom of action and the theologians ought to be able 
to give an answer when laymen ask their advice on worldly 
matters/ 



230 



HELMUTH JAMES GRAF 
von MOLTKE 

11 March 190723 January 1945 

HELMUTH JAMES GRAF VON MOLTKE was born at 
Kreisau on his parents* estate in Silesia. He was a lawyer and 
at the same time managed his estates. From 1939 to 1944 




Photograph taken in the People's Court 

231 



he was the expert on martial law and international law with 
the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. He was 
executed in Plotzensee on 23 January 1945. Shortly before his 
death, he wrote to his sons : 

'All my life, even when I was at school, I have fought against 
narrow-mindedness and violence, against presumption, intoler- 
ance and that absolute and pitiless regimentation which is part 
of the German character and which has found expression in 
the National Socialist state. I have also dedicated myself to 
overcome this spirit with all the harm it brings in its train : 
excessive nationalism, racial persecution, unbelief and mate 
rialism/ 

* * * 

Before the war, Helmuth James Graf von Moltke was still 
of the opinion 'that belief in God was not essential' to main- 
tain the struggle against National Socialism. But later he 
wrote: 'Today I know that I was wrong, absolutely and 
entirely wrong . . . The degree of insecurity which we must 
endure today and the readiness to make sacrifices that is 
demanded of us, pre-suppose more than sound ethical 
principles. . . / 

Moltke, who had been imprisoned months before 20 July, 
because he had warned a friend of his imminent arrest, said 
of himself: TEver since National Socialism has come to 
power, I have tried to mitigate its effects on its victims and 
to prepare the way for a change. My own conscience drove 
me to do this, and in the last resort it is a task worth doing/ 

But at his trial before the People's Court there was no men- 
tion of the deeds to which he had been driven by his con- 
science. He was not charged with concrete action against the 
state. He stood before Freisler 'not as a Protestant, not as a 
country gentleman, not as an aristocrat, not as a Prussian, not 
as a German * 

The point at issue was of quite another order. It found 
expression in the words that Freisler screamed at von Moltke 
during the trial : 'There is one thing, Herr Graf, which we 
National Socialists and the Christians have in common, and 
only one : we both demand the whole man/ This sentence 
goes to the root of Christian resistance. The demands of the 
totalitarian state penetrate the very soul of man, and so 
engage in indissoluble conflict with the demands of God. In 
this situation, in this chaos, man is ground to dust. Against 
232 



the voice of conscience compliance with the demands of the 
state is a symptom of weakness and failure, of lack of 
principle and deep personal bondage. But to follow the call 
of God calls forth a whole host of enemies. 

This and this alone was what von Moltke had done. It was 
enough to bring about his death. Anything that might have 
obscured the issue, all other possible indictable points, were 
dropped. He stood before Freisler as *a Christian and as 
absolutely nothing else'. He died for one sole thought : 'How, 
by what means, can Christianity best serve as an anchor in 
time of chaos?' 

An anchor. The decision of the Christian for God does not 
only involve persecution and death, but also the saving of 
the soul from chaos, taking it from the clutches of the state 
into a freedom which is out of reach of worldly power, into 
'absolute security*. Consciousness of this security gives the 
strength to cope with the 'degree of danger and readiness to 
sacrifice' of which von Moltke wrote. 

The sense of inner freedom which inspired the Christian 
resistance movement emerges time and again, and above all 
in the cellars of the Gestapo. Von Moltke describes it : '. . . So 
far as I was concerned the whole hall could have shouted like 
Herr Freisler and the walls have trembled, it would have 
meant absolutely nothing to me. As Isaiah (11,43) describes 
it : "When thou passest through the water, I will be with 
thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; 
when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, 
neither shall the flame kindle upon thee".' 



233 



7 FREEDOM AND 
ORDER 



THE resistance which culminated in the attempt of 20 July 
1944, and which more nearly than any other may be 
described as a centrally directed opposition movement, 
brought together men and women of widely differing views. 
If the attempt had succeeded, if Hitler had been killed and 
the revolution had taken its course, these differences would 
have inevitably, and rightly, come to the fore : but not, the 
evidence suggests, until Germany had been re-established as 
a constitutional state; for the conspirators were unanimous 
not only in their wish to be rid of the National Socialist 
regime, but also in their determination to build something 
positive in its place. 

Professor Max Braubach wrote in a report based on long 
research : 'Anyone who examines closely the personalities of 
such people as Beck, Goerdeler and Stauffenberg, who reads 
HasselTs diaries, Schlabrendorffs reports or Moltke's last 
letters, will come to the conclusion that whatever the 
influence of human fears and longings, they were moved 
primarily by moral indignation against injustice and in- 
humanity/ 

In a memorandum that was sent to the Bishop of 
Chichester in May 1942, via Sweden, the aim was 'to re- 
establish the German nation on the basis of law and social 
justice'; and a friend of Helmuth Moltke's wrote in 1943 that 
the first essential was to break the fetters on human con- 
science and that 'the law which has been trampled under 
foot must be resurrected and placed in a position of full 
sovereignty over all aspects of human life*. 

At the end of 1943 Goerdeler wrote in a draft government 
proclamation: The Government will begin its work by 
placing the sovereign power of the state on an ethical and 
legal basis. It will respect the individual, the family, religious 
confessions, professional organisations, local self-government 
and the free trade unions; but it demands of all citizens that 
they regard themselves in duty bound to work for the 
common good/ 
234 



Another draft for the government proclamation states that 
'it is our wish to re-establish the fundamentals of morality in 
every sphere of private and public life'; freedom of the spirit, 
of conscience, of faith and of opinion must be restored, a 
divided people must regain mutual trust; the only schism 
should be between 'crime and unscrupulousness on the one 
hand and honesty and integrity on the other*. 

The 'Appeal to the German People' which would have 
been read out in the name of General Beck immediately after 
the elimination of Hitler, says : 'Our aim is a true national 
community based on respect, charity and social justice. We 
want fear of God to replace fear of men who have tried to 
usurp His power; law and freedom to replace terror and 
force; truth and integrity, lies and self-interest/ 

The most elaborate plans were made for the period 
immediately after the revolution and although there came 
together in the making young socialists and old conservatives, 
churchmen, soldiers and civil servants, men and women of 
the right and of the left and of the centre, there seems to 
have been genuine willingness to learn and to adapt, and 
genuine progress iu finding common ground. The various 
plans and programmes were incomplete, many of them have 
been lost, and the situation for which they were devised 
never in fact existed, but the thoughts on the future organisa- 
tion of the German state which crystallised at a time of such 
trouble and adversity, deserves respect. 

The recognised leaders of the opposition movement, 
though their backgrounds varied from aristocratic tradition 
to socialist ideology, did not come together merely to oppose. 
They were united also in their wOl to act and in their 
espousal of the cause of reform. Importance has since been 
attached to the war-time meetings between aristocrats and 
socialist politicians, civil servants and trade unionists, Pro- 
testants and Catholics, who constituted the Kreisau Circle, 
named after Graf von Moltke's estate where they often met. 
Moltke himself was opposed to a coup d 9 6tat : the National 
Socialists were to be given no scapegoat, they were to be left 
to bear sole responsibility for the disaster they had brought 
on the German people, right up to the end. Many other 
members of the group were active participants in the 
attempt, others were sentenced although they had 'only 
thought'. The proposals of the Kreisau Circle represent in the 

235 



main the ideas of the younger generation, as opposed to the 
older die-hards. They wanted a future based on freedom and 
humanity in general and on social progress and a European 
community in particular. Above all the nihilism of the Third 
Reich was to give way to Christianity : 'The Government of 
the German Reich sees in Christianity the foundation for the 
moral and religious revival of our people, for the dissolution 
of hate and falsehood, for the re-construction of the European 
community of nations/ 

Many details were discussed. School and university reform, 
the right to work and property, the welfare of the family. 
Work should be organised, says the treatise of 1943, so that 
'it promotes personal responsibility'. The memorandum to 
the Bishop of Chichester mentions that 'economic order 
should be re-established according to genuine socialist 
principles' and the problems of land reform, re-distribution 
of property and ownership of basic industries were also con- 
sidered. But the main plan was for the transition period and 
the government proclamation lays stress on the belief that 
'the economy must initially operate on a basis of rationing 
and controls/ 

In the field of foreign policy the immediate aim was to 
make peace, and the highest duty, again according to the 
proclamation, was 'courageously and patiently to vindicate 
the oft dishonoured German name. We gave warning 
against this war which has brought so much suffering to 
all mankind, and we can therefore speak openly . . . What 
we demand for ourselves we must and wish to concede to 
others/ 

The duty of restitution, especially to victims of racial per- 
secution and of dealing with war criminals, was clearly 
accepted. The memorandum of May 1942 states that the 
German opposition envisaged a federation of European 
states, including Great Britain, which must work in close 
co-operation with other state federations; and in the new 
Europe, which should have a common executive, a free 
Poland and a free Czechoslovakia should have their rightful 
place. In August 1943 the programme stated that the free 
and peaceful development of civilisation and national cul- 
ture could no longer be reconciled with absolute national 
sovereignty, and so it was necessary to strive for a supra- 
national order. . . . 
236 



But the primary task was to end the war. As the 'Appeal 
to the German People' said : 

'We want to rehabilitate our honour and thereby our reputa- 
tion in the community of nations. We wish to contribute by 
every means at our disposal towards healing the wounds which 
this war has inflicted on all nations, and to revive confidence 
among them. 

'Our aim is a just peace, in which self-destruction and the 
annihilation of other nations may turn to co-operation. Such 
peace can be founded only on freedom and equal rights for 
all nations/ 

Those who fought for all this were themselves denied 
success. This implies no final judgment on the rebellion nor 
of the motives of the rebels. Their spiritual heritage remains. 



237 



CARLO MIERENDORFF 

25 March 18974 December 1943 

CARLO MIERENDORFF was born in Darmstadt, near 
Frankfurt, the son of a minor official in the employ of the 
Grand Duke of Hesse. In 1914 he volunteered for the army 
and came back in 1918 as an officer, with high decorations. 
From 1930he was a Socialist member of the German Reichstag. 
He was arrested in 1933 and held prisoner in concentration 
camps until 1937. In the last few years before his death he 
belonged to the close circle of men who were preparing 
details of a new political order for the time after Hitler's fall. 



Among the advertisements in the Deutsche Allgemeine 
Zeitung, published in Berlin on Christmas Day 1943, there 
appeared the following notice : 

On 4 December, the Lord over Life and Death took unto 
Himself our friend and companion Carlo Mierendorff. He was 
a victim of the air-raid on Leipzig. 

In the name of all his friends, 
EMIL HENK DR THEODOR HAUBACH 

Heidelberg Berlin-Grunewald 

Kasimir Edschmid, a friend who spent much of his youth 
with Theodor Haubach and Carlo Mierendorff, writes : 

The house where Theo Haubach lived was only a few yards 
away from ours, and we knew each other well as boys. My 
brother used to be Father Christmas for the Haubach family 
as well as for our own, and Theo, who later in life was afraid 
of nothing, was terrified of him in his disguise. 

'At the outbreak of war in 1914 Theo introduced me to his 
school friend Carlo Mierendorff on the parade ground of an 
infantry regiment stationed at Darmstadt. He, like Theo, had 
just left school. He was a fair haired, well-built boy with bold, 
chiselled features, a defiant brow, a smile which was ironic at 
one moment and enthusiastic at the next; and for all his youth 
he had great dignity, which did not for a moment conceal the 
fact that he was a man who loved a fight. As the years went 
238 




Photo by Atelier Binder 



by I noticed again and again that this fighting spirit was 
directed at everything unkind, anti-social, inhuman and bad, 
and was devoted to an unceasing struggle for freedom. About 
a year after Mierendorff had volunteered for the army he came 
under my care in a military hospital and, although himself a 
patient, helped me in a touching and unselfish manner to care 
for the wounded from the Balkans. 

239 



'About the same time a group of very young men had been 
formed in Darmstadt under the leadership of Josef Wiirth, the 
printer. By 1918 they had published 65 leaflets, Mierendorff 
sending contributions from the front. In the last number, pub- 
lished in November 1918, at the end of the war, he finished 
his message with the words: "We are waiting for you, my 
friends, for your enthusiastic support." This might well have 
been the passionate and guiding motto of his life. 

'After the war he founded the periodical Das Tribunal, in 
Darmstadt, which was one of the most interesting magazines to 
appear in those troubled times. Among other things it pub- 
lished the famous appeal to French youth, which demanded a 
supra-national European community. Like many of the more 
responsible young socialists, Carlo MierendorfF was at that time 
a radical. For all his rashness, his eloquence and his literary 
passions, Mierendorff had a certain serenity bordering on 
wisdom, and indeed on real faith. This emerges also in his 
books, Hdtf ich das Kino ("If the cinema were mine"), is a 
tour de force. 

'He studied at Heidelberg and took his degree there, joined 
the Social Democratic Party, became one of the youngest 
members of the Reichstag under the Weimar Republic, and 
when the barbarians stood on the threshold, challenged Dr 
Goebbels in a sensational manner. He made known to the public 
the contents of the Boxheim Documents, which outlined the 
first Nazi plan to seize power; and he chose an extract in which 
every paragraph ended with the words "to be shot*. 

'He later returned to Darmstadt to assist Wilhelm Leuschner, 
who was in charge of the Ministry of the Interior of Hesse. He 
knew the importance of impressive symbols in political warfare 
and introduced the "Three Arrows" as the badge of his sym- 
pathisers. This was in 1932, when they still hoped to defeat 
National Socialism, which was then showing signs of exhaustion. 
A few months later he was being dragged by the Nazis through 
the streets of Darmstadt like a captured beast.' 

MierendorfF writes of these days in his notes from prison : 

14 June, in the afternoon. 

SS turned up at the L.K.P. (Land Criminal Police) Office. 
Departure under supervision of detectives Weiss and Augustin. 
Conflict over the SS car. Back to the L.K.P. Office. Negotiations 
with the SS. I must go along. Drive in the SS car to the 
Bismarckplatz. From there procession through the town: SS cars 
following me. Siren repeating from the Main Post Office 
'Mierendorff the Press Chief of the Leuschner Government 

240 



6. 



/ /. 




J.-S> 



A* 



I, 



, XT* </r/2_ 



241 



(later : journalistic swine) . . . traitor to the workers'. Back once 
more from the prison to fetch things from the car. Beatings, 
kicks. Body, face, neck. Human beings? . . . Cell 32. 

The time he spent at camp Osthofen, just after this, was 
the worst, with terrible ill-treatment every night. In 
Papenburg-Borgermoor he had to dig trenches. In Torgau 
camp he was put into the so-called death cell with Wilhelm 
Leuschner. In Buchenwald he had to put up the first barbed 
wire and help to erect the new prisoners' barracks. In the 
fifth year of his imprisonment came the sudden dreaded 
summons from the place of employment, by two armed 
guards. Carlo Mierendorff expected to be executed. Instead, 
he was led into the administrative office and told that his 
release had been approved. He gave no answer but fell to 
the ground in a dead faint. 

Once outside the barbed wire he found a means of earning 
his living, originally suggested by senior SS officials, in the 
social department of the Braunkohle- und Bensin A.G., 
Berlin. It was thought that in this National Socialist agency 
he would be under a certain control, but Mierendorff, active 
as before, made good use of his position, which also entailed 
business trips, at home and abroad, to revive his old political 
connections. As the possibility of revolt drew near, he was 
once more ready for action. It was he who declared : 'From 
now on, we can only go forward, to victory or the gallows'. 
He prepared many of the plans designed to convert the 
public to new, democratic ideas; among other things he 
drafted, in 1943, the first speech intended for broadcasting, 
and devised a new symbol for the future. It showed the 
Cross of Christianity within the ring of social policy. 

Carlo Mierendorff died in his forty-seventh year. He was a 
doomed man and the bomb only saved him from Freisler's 
death sentence. The news of his death filled his friends with 
horror and left among them a gap that could not be filled. 



THEODOR HAUBACH 

15 September 189623 January 1945 

THEODOR HAUBACH matriculated in 1914, and so belonged 
to the last generation of boys who were educated in the 
good old days' of the Kaiser and whose school-days were 
undisturbed by war-time irregularities. 

He grew up in his parents' home in Darmstadt, with 
every prospect of security. With his keen intellect, his thirst 
for knowledge and his aptitude for clear logic, it looked as 
though he would go far in whatever field of study or research 
he might choose. But when he was eighteen the question 
of choosing a profession ceased to exist. He volunteered 
for the army, was commissioned in the field, wounded eight 
times and did not come back until the end of the war. 

In 1919, with his usual initiative, he began to study 
philosophy at Heidelberg. Like so many of his con- 
temporaries, his experiences during the war had turned 
him to socialism : Haubach and his friend Mierendorff soon 
became leaders of the socialist students in Heidelberg,' 
writes Emil Henk, a friend of them both. Haubach was 
always quick to grasp fundamentals, and as a student he 
bitterly opposed the Nationals the future National Socialists 
in whom he recognised even at this early date an enemy 
of the German people. In debates he was icily calm, and 
appeared remote and unmoved in the midst of turmoil; but 
he also in those days soon after the first war, fired his fellow 
students with political energy and won many impressive 
battles over his opponents. But practical politics were not 
the end of the story, for he also mastered with rare thorough- 
ness the ideology of socialism and the difficult, complicated 
works of the 19th century philosophers. 

It was perhaps in Hegel that Haubach found the closest 
intellectual affinity, the precise definition, the passion for 
ideas and the dialectic style which was most in sympathy 
with his own; but unlike Hegel he never dreamed of explain- 
ing away the world as a creation of the mind. The logical 
sceptic in him saw in philosophy the ultimate realm of human 
knowledge, and as a young man he was interested only in 

243 



what could be proved, and denied the rest. But as he grew 
older and more mature he began with all care and humility 
to examine the problems of faith and to explore the unknown. 
In 1923, the worst year of the inflation, Haubach took his 
degree as Doctor of Philosophy and went to the Institute 
for Foreign Affairs in Hamburg. A year later he became an 
assistant editor of the Hamburg Echo and also joined the 
executive of the Hamburg branch of the Reichsbanner 
Schwarz-Rot-Gold, as he wished to work actively for the 
protection of the Republic. 

'The countless thousands of Germans who died in the war 
must surely have died for a new Germany/ he wrote in Ham- 
burg, 'or else they died for nothing at all, there is no third 
possibility. This new Germany does not yet exist, but it is 
coming, we are struggling to help it, and when we fight for 
Germany, we are fighting for a new Europe/ 

It was inevitable that the generation which faced the task 
of striving for this goal should pay attention to past Ger- 
man history. In his analysis of problems of military and 
political power, Haubach wrote : 'The influence of military 
ideology in the civilian sphere is at the root of the century- 
old failure of German national policy. All the contempt for 
things political, the rage against pen-pushers and gossip- 
mongers, is merely symptomatic of the lack of interest in 
political affairs which has persisted for centuries/ 

Haubach wanted a republic 'which should assert itself 
and accept the full consequences of its will to survive, for 
that way and by definite limitations of power it will be 
possible to create a new political order, in which conflicts 
will be resolved not without power but at least without 
bloodshed, by negotiation'. 

In 1930 he went to the Prussian Ministry of the Interior 
as press officer and then to the Berlin Police Headquarters as 
head of its press department. He became deputy chairman 
of the central executive of the Reichsbanner and suggested 
various dramatic measures to bolster up the Weimar Repub- 
lic, but to his great disappointment they were not accepted 
by the responsible politicians. 

In the first six years of the National Socialist regime 
Haubach was repeatedly arrested and imprisoned. He spent 
two years in the concentration camp at Esterwegen, and 
after his release earned his living as an insurance agent 
244 




Photograph taken in the People's Court 



After his third release, Victor Bausch, a friend of his who 
owned a paper factory, managed to get permission from the 
Gestapo for Haubach to work there in a job 'essential to the 
war economy*. In 1943 Haubach was approached by mem- 
bers of the Kreisau Circle and subsequently threw in his lot 
with them. He also worked in close co-operation with his old 
political friends, Mierendorff, Leuschner and Leber. 
Haubach's various philosophical papers have been burnt 

245 



or destroyed and only his letters and reports of odd con- 
versations remain to testify to his ardent struggle to solve 
the ultimate problems of mankind. As late as 6 July 1944, 
a fortnight before he and his friends were to string their 
bow at the might and power of the enemy, he wrote to a 
member of the clergy : 

The more I try to fathom the wisdom of the two testaments, 
the more I am bothered by the thought that past centuries have 
obscured one essential of the divine message : that man is not 
only a sinner, miserable, pitiful and small, but also a being who 
is capable of sharing the sublime to an extent which our 
declining age is no longer able to grasp. . . / 

On 9 August 1944, Theodor Haubach was arrested by the 
Gestapo. In January 1945 he was sentenced to death, and 
executed. He had often thought about the meaning of such 
sacrifice, and had written of it: 

'Now the limits of violence are such that it may well destroy 
the person who resists, but not the force of resistance. Of course 
if it were actually possible to wipe out all the people who were 
inspired by the spirit of resistance against tyranny, the destruc- 
tion would amount almost to the annihilation of die spirit itself; 
but what cannot be destroyed is the memory of the event 
should such annihilation take place. . . ." 



246 



FRITZ-DIETLOF GRAF 
von DER SCHULENBURG 

5 September 190210 August 1944 

ON 10 August 1944, Fritz-Dietlof Graf von der Schulenburg, 
the heir of an old Mecklenburg family from which the 
Prussian kings had recruited many military leaders and civil 
servants, stood in the dock before Freisler. He faced a charge 
of high-treason, and he faced it with equanimity. But with 
the pride of a man who is making a profession of faith, he 
said to the President of the People's Court : *We have taken 
this upon ourselves to save Germany from unspeakable 
misery. I am aware that I shall be hanged for it, but I do not 
regret my actions/ In this manner, a man who had believed 
ten years earlier that it might be possible to work with the 
National Socialists, threw caution to the winds and declared 
himself against the Hitler regime. 

Fritz von der Schulenburg first became aware of the social 
misery which followed the first war while working as a 
lawyer in local administrative offices. His sympathy for the 
radical groups among the workers during riots at Reckling- 
hausen soon brought him into conflict with his superiors, so 
much so that he was transferred to East Prussia. In this way 
he came to Konigsberg, where he was known as the Hed 
Graf and gathered about him a circle of friends who 'com- 
bined sound professional ability with minds open to new 
ideas'. Despite strong personal scruples against Hitler, 
Schulenburg joined the National Socialist Party, believing 
that it might combine patriotism with undogmatic socialism, 
and afterwards got to know Gregor Strasser and his friends. 
But he soon saw the legal abuse which was part and parcel 
of National Socialism. This uneasiness grew into political 
disillusionment and, after Gregor Strasser's liquidation in 
1943, into indignation. 

While he was working in local administration in East 
Prussia, Schulenburg cleared off the public debt in the Kreis 
for which he was responsible and was able to put into prac- 
tice some of his ideas for improving the civil service. He was 

247 



always on the look out for ways in which the cracks in the 
legal structure might be sealed, and for men who might 
help; but as usual opposition was hampered by Hitler's 
apparent success in foreign affairs, on the one hand, and by 
the methods of the Gestapo on the other. 

In 1937 Schulenburg accepted the post of Deputy Chief of 
Police in Berlin. 'I had to decide whether I wished to leave 
the service or become the Fouche of Hitler; I chose the 
latter/ 

He now had the opportunity to learn more of what was 
going on, and was all the more anxious to find kindred 
spirits. Goebbels soon began to distrust him. When Schulen- 
burg became President of Lower and Upper Silesia in 1939, 
he was determined that his province should become a good 
example to others, but his energetic measures to this end 
soon got him into trouble with the Party and earned him the 
label 'politically unreliable*. 

The war took him to the eastern front and, as in his civil 
job, Tritzi', now a platoon commander in an infantry com- 
pany, was an example of composure, caution, conscientious- 
ness and humour. His war experiences matured him and 
hardened his convictions, and later on when he was on the 
staff of General von Unruh, in Paris, he was willing and able 
to help and to spin the web. 

He rarely only in decisive moments lifted the mask 
which hid his real intentions. He was particularly well in- 
formed on everything from Hitler's latest utterances to the 
position at the front, from blunders in the plans for industry 
and food economy to the content of the secret service files, 
and he had a sure instinct for discovering people who thought 
as he did. He spread his net over every group from Stauffen- 
berg to the military administration in Paris, from the police 
to the reserve battalions, from Goerdeler to the trade 
unionists and Socialists, and again from the Kreisau Circle 
to the Army. He was to become Under-Secretary in the 
Ministry of the Interior after the fall of the Hitler regime. 
His plan for the reform of the administration (he also 
worked with Beck, Popitz, Jessen and Planck on a new draft 
for a future constitution), was lost, though many of its 
characteristics have been preserved. Schulenburg saw as the 
main problem the foundation of a new German democracy 
and its further development in the conditions created by 
248 




Photograph taken in the People's Court 



the industrial state; the question as to how the modern state 
is to be governed and administered so that each individual 
feels himself to be a responsible citizen. Schulenburg took 
as his starting point Baron von Stein's theories on national 
education and realised that, after dictatorship had been 
ousted, there would arise the unique opportunity for intro- 
ducing basic democratic ideas which had never before been 
put into practice in Germany, and that a modern, social and 
lasting democracy could be set up. To this end he wished to 

249 



establish clear-cut spheres of responsibility in the various 
social and political fields. He was also convinced of the 
importance of practical planning for the reconstruction of 
destroyed towns. 

On 20 July 1944, Fritz von der Schulenburg stood at 
Stauffenberg's side in the Bendlerstrasse. When it became 
evident that the attempt on Hitler s life had failed, he said : 
It looks as though the German people must drain this cup 
to the very dregs. We must sacrifice ourselves, but later on 
we shall be understood/ Then quite calmly, he destroyed 
the contents of his brief-case. 

He preserved this calm to the end. At the trial, when asked 
by the judge what he had really in mind with the coup detat 
he answered : Wait three months. The situation in which 
you will find yourself is exactly that from which we set out/ 
And after the trial he wrote to his wife :' *What we did was 
inadequate, but in the end history will judge and acquit us/ 

A few hours later Fritz von der Schulenburg was executed 
at Plotzensee. 



250 



ADAM von TROTT ZU SOLZ 

9 August 190926 August 1944 

ADAM VON TROTT zu SOLZ was born in Potsdam when 
his father was Minister of Education in the Prussian Admini- 
stration. He studied law in Munich, Gottingen and Berlin, and 
philosophy, politics and economics as a Rhodes scholar at 
Oxford. 

When he had passed his final law examinations in 1936, 
and after six months' preparation in the United States, he 
spent several years studying in East Asia, mostly in Peking 
(This was also made possible by the Rhodes Foundation). 
From the spring of 1940 onwards he worked in the Foreign 
Office in Berlin, in the Information Department, and was 
meanwhile in close touch with the Kreisau Group, with 
representatives of the working class and of the church and 
with friends among the aristocracy. 

His thesis, Hegel's Staatsphilosophie und das Internationale 
Recht (Hegel's Political Philosophy and International Law), 
which appeared in 1932, and his publication in 1936 of the 
political and journalistic writings of Heinrich von Kleist, are 
enough proof of the extent of his intellectual study of the 
problems of the day and of National Socialism, which was 
the spur to his own determination to take an active part in 
politics. It also provided the motive for his journeys to other 
countries, which enabled him to gain a 'clearer picture of his 
own', an insight into the qualities of the peoples of the East 
and West and a new relationship to the Christian faith as the 

basis of conduct. 

* * # 

*War solves no problems'. With this thought in mind, 
Adam von Trott zu Solz, a man of extraordinary intellectual 
ability and moral courage, made, in 1939, a bold personal bid 
to prevent war. As late as July he was in London and was 
received by Chamberlain and Lord Halifax, and urged the 
Foreign Office to take up a strong attitude towards Hitler 
while there was still time before war broke out. After the 
outbreak of war he accepted an invitation to a conference 
in the United States, where he tried in a memorandum to win 
over President Roosevelt to a policy that might encourage 

251 



the anti-Hitler movement in Germany. Felix Morley, also a 
former Rhodes Scholar, wrote in his diary of von Trott's 
efforts in Washington at that time : 

'But in fact he devoted most of his time to the attempt to 
arouse understanding here for the great change which, he 
believes, is to be expected in Germany. . . . The main problem 
is how to prevent a war of extermination against the Nazis from 
driving back into Hitler's arms .all those forces which are now 
just beginning to concentrate to bring about Hitler's fall.' 

In 1940 Adam von Trott returned to Germany via Japan, 
without success. Under cover of his official position as a 
counsellor in the Foreign Office, and always in danger, he 
fostered his connections in all parts of the world, his main 
object being to arouse enthusiasm and support abroad for 
the German resistance. He was in close touch with Leber 
and Stauffenberg. 

At the beginning of 1944, on behalf of the forces that had 
-resolved upon revolution, von Trott sent a message to the 
President of the United States, asking him in great urgency 
to let it be known to what extent foreign countries would 
be prepared to allow a new German government to safeguard 
democracy in Germany. About the same time his last treatise 
appeared under the title Deutschland zwischen Ost und 
West (Germany between East and West), of which his friends 
said that it was written with his life's blood. 

Despite his frequent journeys and his endless oppor- 
tunities, Adam von Trott was drawn as if by a magnet back 
to Germany, where he considered his duty to lie. In May 
1944, for instance, he could easily have found some official 
reason to leave Verona for Rome, which was soon to be 
occupied by the Allies, and so have saved himself. But though 
he was reckoning with his own arrest at any moment, he 
wanted to get back to his friends in Berlin, and in June 
he left again for Sweden to find out how a successful 
uprising in Germany would be received in political circles 
there. 

On 15 August, Adam von Trott zu Solz, who had been ear- 
marked as the future Under-Secretary in the Foreign Office, 
stood with his friend, Hans-Bernd von Haeften, before the 
People's Court. On the evening of the same day he wrote to 
his wife : 
252 




Photograph taken in the People's Court 

Toil will know that what hurts me most is that I may never 
again be able to place my experience at the service of the 
country, the special abilities I have been able to develop by 
what was perhaps too single-minded concentration on foreign 
affairs and Germany's position among the powers. Here I could 
still have been useful. I should so much like to make some sort 
of summary of my ideas and proposals which might help other 
people, but I don't suppose I shall be able to. It was all an 
attempt, arising from love of my own country (for which I 
must thank my father) and knowledge of her strength, to pro- 
tect her immutable rights among the changes and chances of 

253 



this modern world, and to preserve her profound and indis- 
pensable contribution to civilisation against the encroachment 
of powers and beliefs which are foreign to her. That is why I 
always hurried back in eager anxiety from foreign countries, 
with all their enticements and opportunities, to this one where 
I felt I was called upon to serve. What I have learnt and what 
I was able to do for Germany abroad would certainly have 
helped a great deal now, because there are so few people who 
have enjoyed such diverse opportunities in the last few years. 
So I must hope that even without me, understanding and 
assistance will be forthcoming from many of these connections, 
if it should ever again be wanted or necessary. But a sower is 
reluctant to leave germinating seed for others to look after, for 
between sowing and harvest there are many storms. . . / 

The death sentence against Adam von Trott zu Solz was 
carried out on 26 August 1944, in Berlin-Plotzensee. 



254 



JULIUS LEBER 

16 November 18915 January 1945 

JULIUS LEBER was born at Biesheim in Upper Alsace. When 
he left the village school the parson suggested that he 
should be sent to a secondary school at Breisach, but for 
financial reasons he had to break off his education and went 
into a wallpaper factory as an apprentice. In 1910 he won a 
scholarship to the Oberrealschule in Freiburg, and stayed there 
till 1912, earning his living by giving lessons and writing 
newspaper reports. He then studied political economy and 
history at the universities of Freiburg and Strasbourg, on a 
similar basis, until in 1914 he volunteered for the army. He 
served throughout the war as an officer and was decorated 
several times; in 1920 while an officer in the Frontier Defence 
Forces with strong republican convictions he took part in the 
defeat of the Kapp Putsch. After that he left the army and 
took his Dr rer. pol. degree. 

At the age of thirty he was appointed editor of the 
Liibecker Volksbote and soon became a central figure among 
the workers in North Germany, and the unchallenged leader 
of the Liibeck Social Democrats. In this position, and while 
he was a member of the Reichstag from 1924 to 1933, he 
consistently fought the totalitarian parties of the right and of 
the left and dedicated himself by word and deed to the 
establishment of a living democracy in Germany. 

On 16 January 1933, Julius Leber appealed to the working 
men : 'When it is a question of fighting for freedom, one does 
not ask what will happen tomorrow/ On the day the National 
Socialists came to power, he was arrested, and from 1 Feb- 
ruary 1933 onwards, with only a short break just before the 
March elections of that year, until the summer of 1937, he 
was dragged through prisons and concentration camps, 
always in danger of his life. 

On 16 November 1933, he wrote from the Marstall Prison 
in Liibeck : There are all sorts of ways of frightening people, 
but love grows only from humanity and justice. And without 
love there can be no patriotism. Sometimes I wonder if I 
shall ever live to see a fatherland based on justice. On 

255 



1 August 1914, there descended on my generation a great 
curse, which it does not seem able to shake off/ 

Julius Leber was a typical representative of the generation 
who, many of them influenced by their experiences in the 
first war, were ready to devote all their energies to the 
creation of a modern, democratic state in Germany, but who 
were frustrated by a series of tragic events and circumstances, 
and lost the chance ever to make something of their 
visions. 

Leber was a severe critic of the weaknesses and half- 
measures of the Weimar Republic. He believed that a reliable 
fighting force and the determined administration of justice 
were essential to a live democracy; but that many of the 
responsible men 'relied on a colourless idealism and lived 
from hand to mouth'. In his opinion, a considerable share 
of the responsibility fell on his own party, which had too 
often failed to realise what was necessary and which hardly 
ever allowed creative and energetic personalities to come to 
the fore. 

In prison, Leber wrote of his own experiences and said in 
conclusion: 'The high purpose has survived nerve-racking 
tensions and burdens, and political chaos : it is to build for 
the working man a better future, firmly based on justice and 
freedom/ 

After his release from the concentration camp Leber made 
a living as a coal merchant in Berlin, and used the business 
as a cover for his political work. He quickly took up his old 
connections with friends all over the country and with many 
others who wanted to throw over the regime, for he regarded 
this as the most urgent and important task for which no plan 
was too dangerous and no stake too high. His mental energy 
and his unbounded will to action appealed particularly to 
the young, who strongly supported him for leadership in the 
new government, and according to the plans he was destined 
for the post of Minister of the Interior. What mattered to 
him was the building up of a workable democracy with a 
strong government, free from narrow party doctrines, and 
ready to work with all constructive and creative forces. He 
has been described as one of the outstanding figures of the 
German resistance movement, and Theodor Heuss said of 
him in a memorial address : 

"Though he had no love for the barrack square Leber had, 
256 




Photograpti taken In tin People's Court 

fundamentally, a soldierly nature and even laughed, without 
any attempt to deny it, when I told him that the Alsatian 
was made of the stuff out of which Napoleon moulded his 
marshals/ Gustav Dahrendorf, another friend, wrote: 'His 
whole life was action. Inspired by his great moral strength 
and his own strong will, he was at all stages of his life a 
soldier, a politician and a human being/ 

257 



Paul Sethe, who was present at the trial before the People's 
Court on 24 October 1944 (Leber had been arrested at the 
beginning of July), wrote afterwards : 

'Deserving of death. . . . The man who stood there in front 
of that mighty and wicked judge, had done more than merely 
wonder if the war would be lost. He made no secret of the 
fact that he had tried to overthrow the government. One felt 
that Julius Leber had long known what his fate would be, 
but he was not at all overwrought, but calm and patient. He 
listened attentively to his enemy and then answered in a low 
voice, but distinctly and steadily. But Julius Leber was only 
human, and even though he had long known what would 
happen to him, there was perhaps deep in his heart a last 
vestige of hope, a thirst for life, a wish once more to taste 
freedom, to see the countryside and his family. His voice 
remained dear and he did not tremble. I could see from 
behind, from where the spectators sit, the heels of his shoes 
moving up and down (they were slightly worn down oh, well, 
we are in the fifth year of the war and Leber is not a rich 
man), but he remained absolutely cool and controlled. 

It was dear from the beginning of the trial that the Presi- 
dent in his red robe was hardly interested in convicting the 
prisoner. (After all what was there to do, in such a clear-cut 
case?) Freisler was not content with that : he wanted to drag 
down his victim into the dust, to humiliate him, to break his 
morale. His voice rang through the court, as he accused Leber 
of cowardice. Would Leber be stung to reply? Would he defend 
himself furiously? Only to be interrupted by that shrieking man, 
to be insulted anew, to be silenced? But the prisoner listened 
quietly to the raging of the judge, then answered quite calmly: 
"That is an error, in reality it was so . . ." One had the impres- 
sion, as the duel went on, that the r&les had been reversed, 
that the man up there in the red robe began to recede, that 
he was losing his nerve, that the gramophone needed wind- 
ing ... Finally, he seemed disappointed, exhausted, cross. He 
ended the trial. He was still the man in power. He could deploy 
and command. But the other man, who now turned and went 
slowly back to the prisoner's dock, was the victor. Very much 
alone in that great hall, with only three or four friends, and 
they in the dock and as helpless as he was, faced with malicious 
opponents, judges, state lawyers, police and SS, with certain 
death before him; yet he had in the end outmanoeuvred his 
adversary. 

'Later, when the Counsel for the Defence, a State Counsel 
of course, rose to his feet, it was quite clear that Leber knew 
258 



what was coming, that it was fatal and final. The counsel did 
not even plead extenuating circumstances. He simply stated 
that his client was fully aware of what he had done, and of 
what he must expect. When the sentence was read out, Julius 
Leber did not turn a hair, he denied his enemy that final 
pleasure. His face remained, as it had been all day, serene and 
calm. He looked into the distance surely far beyond the walls 
of the court . . . The world will never know what he was 
thinking, but when a little later the police took him away, back 
to his cell, he walked erect, as before. And in this manner too 
he will have gone when he started on his last walk, to a hard 
and bitter death/ 

Just before Julius Leber was executed on 5 January 1945, 
he sent a message to his friends : 'One's own life is a proper 
stake for so good and just a cause. We have done what lay 
in our power. It is not our fault that all turned out like this, 
and not otherwise/ 



259 



GLAUS SCHENK GRAF von 
STAUFFENBERG 

15 November 190720 July 1944 

have put ourselves to the test before God and before 
our conscience; it must be done, for this man is evil incar- 
nate/ So said Glaus Stauffenberg to Jakob Kaiser when he 
explained why he and his closest advisers now believed that 
no effort and no risk must be spared to remove Hitler. Jakob 
Kaiser said later that he would never forget that moment, 
for it gave him a sudden insight into Stauffenberg's struggle 
with his own conscience. 

Glaus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg was thirty-six years 
old when, ten months before 20 July 1944, he took it upon 
himself to carry out the attempt on Hitler's life, the attempt 
which had so often been thought of, and on several occasions 
planned to the last detail. His decision sprang from the 
synthesis of ethics and energy which was the key to his 
character, and which came to the fore as he grew older and 
recognised the meaning of right and justice. In 1939, he was 
a young and unusually gifted regular officer and, whatever 
his secret misgivings, a conscious opponent neither of the 
National Socialists nor of their war. By the end of 1943 he 
saw through the system 'right down to the warped and 
morbid atmosphere of the eagle's nest'. 

He found in Julius Leber a kindred spirit and a reliable 
friend, and when the latter was arrested on 5 July 1944, he 
sent a message to Frau Leber, on 17 July, saying : 'We know 
where our duty lies/ 

* * * 

Glaus Stauffenberg came from the Swabian aristocracy; 
on his mother's side he was related to the Yorck family, and 
was a descendant of Gneisenau. At the time of his military 
training, he was regarded by many of his superior officers, 
and by his contemporaries, as the most gifted subaltern of 
his year, with a great future before him. In fun, he was called 
'the new Schlieffen', and it was said of him that he had the 
strength 'to inspire the Army and the General Staff with a 
260 




new spirit and to compete with the narrow military point of 
view'. Later, a general of the old school described him as 
the only German General Staff Officer gifted with genius'. 
At the outbreak of war Stauffenberg was a 1st Lieutenant 
in an armoured division, and fought in Poland and in the 
French campaign. He was not at all pleased when he was 
recalled to Headquarters, for he was still sure of victory and 
loth to leave the fighting troops. This was a new stage of a 
brilliant career, and he was called upon to deal with im- 

261 



portant tasks of organisation. But it was also the stage in 
which his resistance to the decisions of the Ftihrer set in. 
At the beginning of 1943 he was transferred to North Africa, 
where he was wounded in the face, in both hands, and in the 
knee by fire from a low-flying plane. For days, as he lay in 
a military hospital in Carthage, he feared he might lose his 
eyesight completely; in fact he kept one eye and lost his 
right hand and half the left. During his convalescence his 
friends remarked that he seemed to have 'a new conviction 
and even greater energy than before'. 

At that time, many senior officers criticised Hitler's war 
strategy among themselves, and some of them passionately 
condemned it, though fighting shy of decisive action against 
the regime. Glaus Stauffenberg went much further than this, 
for he revised his whole attitude to life. He demanded the 
utmost of himself, and because he believed that the liqui- 
dation of the Hitler regime must be followed by genuine 
reform and by 'the building of a new, social state, which 
would win the confidence of the broad mass of the people', 
he sought to get in touch with the various resistance groups. 
As Chief of Staff to the Army Ordnance Department, and 
with the tacit consent of General Olbricht, he built up round 
Berlin a military net-work on which the resistance move- 
ment was to rely on the day of the revolution. The exponents 
of civil resistance came to regard Stauffenberg as the proto- 
type of the young officers whose own future was in no danger, 
but who were inspired by the officer's sense of responsibility 
towards his troops on the one hand, and by an understanding 
of the obligations of one citizen towards the rest, on the 
other, to take decisive action. Even the Gestapo officials who 
took part in the investigation of the event of 20 July, were 
not quite unmoved by his spirit, and spoke of the vision and 
struggles of this man 'who wanted to combine ethical 
socialism with his aristocratic traditions'. 

Stauffenberg also had a hand in the plan to reach an under- 
standing with the western Allies before the crumbling 
eastern front broke down completely. Shortly before the 
Normandy landings he considered the possibility of helping 
the English through the German minefields, but the plan was 
discarded as it was clear that the idea of dividing tie Allies 
was at that time quite unrealistic. After the Allied troops had 
actually landed, it remained only to curtail so far as possible 



the catastrophe of the drifting war, the immeasurable, sense- 
less sacrifice, and to form a government from the resistance 
groups which even foreign countries would recognise. But 
all this pre-supposed the death of Hitler. 

Twice, between 10 July and 20 July, he fixed the date for 
the attempt on Hitler s life, and twice his plans were defeated 
by circumstances. On 20 July he eventually succeeded in 
placing a time-bomb in a briefcase beside the conference 
table in Hitler's headquarters in East Prussia, almost at 
Hitler s feet. He left the room just before the explosion and 
hurried back to Berlin to expedite the military rising which 
had been so carefully planned. Back in the capital he learnt 
that by a piece of incredibly bad luck, although some of his 
staff had been killed, Hitler himself had escaped. Acci- 
dentally, an officer who was not informed of the plot had 
moved the briefcase with the bomb to the other side of the 
table. 

Glaus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg was shot in the court- 
yard of the War Office in the Bendlerstrasse. One obituary 
said of him that with his wavy black hair and his tall, hand- 
some figure, he was in every respect a true descendent of 
Gneisenau. His wife was arrested and kept in custody for a 
time, during which his fifth child was born. Stauffenberg 
knew that this last mission might lead to his death, and tried 
in the preceding days and weeks to .write a simple political 
confession of faith embodied in an oath by which he and his 
friends should dedicate themselves to the protection and 
the future of all the forces of truth and right, forces long 
since tried and proven and just re-awakened'. 

The essence of this dedication is : We wish for a new 
order which will make all Germans responsible for the state, 
and which will guarantee them right and justice/ 



263 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

(The numbers in brackets refer to the various publications listed on pp. 266-270) 

THE information in this book has been compiled after 
extensive research and some indication of the sources and of 
the range of literature dealing with the various aspects of 
German resistance may be of interest. The origin of actual 
quotations is given in the text. 

There are first of all statements and writings left behind by 
people who are now dead, accounts given by survivors and 
estimates of friends. The subject has been treated in docu- 
mentary films, in broadcasts and of course in the press; and 
a number of books, written from many different points of 
view, have appeared since 1945. But in all probability the 
last word on German resistance has not yet been written; 
and the measures taken by the Nazis to obliterate every trace 
of opposition have made research all the more difficult. 

Soon after the collapse of Germany in 1945 there appeared 
Rudolf Pechel's book (1) giving his own experiences, and 
about the same time a sensational summary of the resistance 
story (2) was published in the United States. A year or so 
later there appeared, also in the United States, a study by 
Hans Rothfels (3), of which a German edition was later 
published in Zurich; this is an able account of the develop- 
ment from 1933 to 1945 of the resistance which centred round 
the Kreisau group, although many new facts have come to 
light since its publication. Eberhard Zeller s book (4) deals 
very fully with Stauffenberg and his friends, with his part in 
the 20 July and, in less detail, with the previous history back 
to Beck's first attempts in 1938. It is of course mainly con- 
cerned with military resistance, and fundamental considera- 
tion of the problems involved in resistance of any kind and 
of the right and duty to resist, such as was later forthcoming 
in connection with die Remer proceedings (5), is essential to 
a balanced judgment. Giinther Weisenborn's book (6) deals 
with many aspects of opposition to Hitler and in particular 
with the activities of the left-wing and radical groups. 

There are a number of books dealing with the various 
personalities of the resistance movement (7) and in particular 
those who were involved in the trials before the People's 
Court which took place after 20 July (8). There are books 
264 



dealing with the persecution of the Jews (9) and many 
personal accounts, including a book by Fabian von 
Schlabrendorf (10), who worked closely with von Tresckow. 
Urich von HasselTs diary (11) throws some light on resistance 
work inside the German Foreign Office; and there are such 
various sources as the controversial memoirs of Hans Bernd 
Gisevius (12), a romantic biography of Canaris (IS), 
Foerster's well-documented study of Beck (14) (which does 
not however go beyond the outbreak of war), and books by 
Kielmannsegg and Foertsch (15) on the Fritsch proceedings 
in 1938, the first visible crisis between Hitler and the 
Wehrmacht. 

The struggle between the state and the churches has been 
discussed in many of the books on resistance, and it is 
perhaps remarkable, given the individual character of such 
resistance, that there should also be a number of publications 
devoted exclusively to it. There are for instance several books 
dealing with the activity of the Protestant Church (16), a 
collection of documents relating to Catholic resistance, 
particularly in the diocese of Berlin (17), the memoirs of the 
Protestant chaplain of Tegel prison (18); and many bio- 
graphies, of which those of the parson Paul Schneider, of 
Bishop Graf von Galen (19), of Father Franz Reinisch and of 
Fritz Michael Gerlich (20), a journalist, are outstanding. There 
are also the accounts of individual prisoners (21), among which 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer's reflections, letters and poems (22) are 
of particular significance; and there is a study by Inge Scholl 
(23), dedicated to Hans and Sophie Scholl, Christoph Probst, 
Willi Graf, Kurt Huber, Alexander Schmorell and their 
friends; and another, compiled by friends of Kurt Huber (24) 
dealing with the same story. Finally, the memoirs of 
Thadden-Trieglaff and Lilje discuss other aspects of the 
struggle of the churches and deal fully with the terror and 
imprisonment which it involved (25). 

The last letters of Helmuth von Moltke (26) are concerned 
with attitudes and activities which lay somewhere between 
the protests of the churches and direct political action 
against Hitler. They illustrate the ideas of the Kreisau group, 
whose plans for the social and Christian reform of Germany 
have been fully discussed in Theodor Steltzer's articles (27). 
Comparatively little has been written on socialist and trade- 
union resistance and the writings of Julius Leber (28), 

265 



supported by notes from his friends, are an important con- 
tribution. A number of revealing personal sketches have also 
been published *on Leber, Leuschner, Mierendorff (29), 
Haubach, Reichwein and von Moltke, Axel von Harnack's 
book (30) on his brother Ernst and Emil Henk's report (31) 
on the preparations for the 20 July also come under this 
category. 

There is in fact a wide variety of literature on the subject 
of German resistance, much of it of serious historical and 
political interest. The books which have been mentioned 
here, to which many could be added (32), are not only 
documents of recent Germany history. They are also tributes 
to human integrity in an age of destruction. 

1. PECHEL (Rudolf): Deutscher Widerstand (German 

Resistance)-, Erlenbach-Ziirich, 1947. 

2. DULLES (Allen Welsh) : Germany's Underground; pub- 

lished in the U.S., 1947; translated as Verschworung 
in Deutschland, Zurich, 1948. 

3. ROTHFELS (Hans) : German Opposition to Hitler; pub- 

lished in the U.S., 1948; translated as Die Deutsclie 
Opposition gegen Hitler, Krefeld, 1949. 

4. ZELLER (Eberhard) : Geist der Freiheit, Der zwanzigste 

Juli (Spirit of Freedom, The Twentieth of July); 
Munich, 1952. 

5. The articles appeared in Geist und Tat, No. 7, 1952, 

pp. 193-224; and Frankfurter Hefte, No. VI, pp. 475 ff. 

6. WEISENBORN (Giinther) : Der Lautlose Auf stand, Bericht 

tiber die Widerstandsbewegung des deutschen Volkes, 
1933-1945. (The Silent Revolt, Report on the Resist- 
ance Movement of the German People)-, Hamburg, 
1953. 

7. 20 Juli 1944; published by Hans Royce, Bonn, 1953. 

8. Die Wahrheit iiber den 20 Juli (The Truth about the 

20 July); published by Eugen Budde and Peter 
Liitsches, Diisseldorf, 1952. 

9. Den Unvergessenen, Opfer des Wdhns 1933 bis 1945 

(To The Unforgotten, Victims of Madness, 1933-1945); 

Heidelberg, 1952. 
10. SCHLABRENDORFF (Fabian von) : Offiziere gegen Hitler 

(Officers against Hitler); published by Gero von 

Schulze-Gavernitz, Zurich, 1947 (2nd edition, 1950). 
266 



11. HASSELL (Ulrich von): Vom anderen Deutschland 

(The Other Germany); extracts from his diaries, 1938- 
1944; Zurich, 1946. 

12. GISEVIUS (Hans Bernd) : Bis zum bitteren Ende (To 

the Bitter End); 2 vols.; Zurich, 1946 (2nd edition 
Hamburg, 1948). 

13. ABSHAGEN (K. H.); Canaris, Patriot und Weltbiirger 

(Canaris, Patriot and Cosmopolitan); Stuttgart, 9th- 
llth thousand 1950. 

14. FOERSTER (Wolfgang): Generdoberst Ludwig Beck, 

Sein Kampf gegen den Krieg (General Ludwig Beck, 
his Struggle against the War); two editions, Munich, 
1953. 

15. KIELMANNSEGG (Johann A. Graf von): Der Fritsch- 

prozess, 1938, Ablauf und Hintergrilnde (The Fritsch 
Trial, 1938, the Proceedings and the Background); 
Hamburg, 1949; FOERTSCH (Hermann): Schuld und 
Verhiingnis, die Fritschkrise als Wendepunkt der 
nationaLsozidistischen Zeit (The Fritsch Case as the 
Turning-point of the National Socialist Era); Stutt- 
gart, 1951. 

16. Kirchliches Jahrbuch fiir die Evangelische Kirche in 

Deutschland, 193S-1944 (Ecclesiastical Yearbook of 
the Protestant Churches in Germany, 1933-1944); 
Gutersloh, 1948; Und folget ihrem Glauben nach, 
Gedenkbuch fiir die Blutzeugen Bekennenden Kirche 
(Follow Them in Their Faith: in Memory of the 
Martyrs of the Confessional Church); published by 
Bernhard H. Forck, Stuttgart, 1949; HERMELINK 
(Heinrich) : Kirche im Kampf, Dokumente des Wider- 
stands und des Aufbaus der Evangelischen Kirche in 
Deutschland von 1933 bis 1945 (The Church Militant : 
Documents concerning the Resistance and Renais- 
sance of the Protestant Church in Germany from 
1933-1945}; Stuttgart, 1950; NBEMOLLER (Wilhelm): 
Kampf und Zeugnis der Bekennenden Kirche (Struggle 
and Testimony of the Confessional Church); Bielefeld, 
1948. 

17. Dokumente aus dem Kampf der Katholischen Kirche 

im Bistum Berlin gegen den Nationalsozialismus 
(Documents concerning the Struggle of the Catholic 
Church against National Socialism in the Diocese of 

267 



Berlin)-, published by the Episcopal Secretariat of 
Berlin, 1946; Blutzeugen des Bistums Berlin (Martyrs 
of the Diocese of Berlin); published by Heinz Kiihn, 
Berlin, 1952; ADOLPH (Walter): Im Schatten des 
Galgens, zum Gedachtnis der Blut-Zeugen in der 
nationdsozidistischen Kirchenverfolgung (In the 
Shadow of the Gallows: in Memory of the Martyrs of 
the National Socialist Persecution of the Church); 
Berlin, 2nd edition 1953; Wo Seine Zeugen sterben, 
ist sein Reich (Where His Witnesses die, is His 
Kingdom); letters of the executed parsons of Liibeck 
and reports of eye-witnesses, compiled by Josef 
Schafer S.J., Hamburg, 1946. 

18. POELCHAU (Harald): Die letzten Stunden, Erinnerun- 

gen des Gefangnispfarrers Harald Poelchau (Their 
Last Hours: Memoirs of a Prison Chaplain), Berlin, 
1949. 

19. Der Prediger von Buchenwald, Das Martyrium Paul 

Schneiders (The Preacher of Buchenwdd, the Martijr- 
dom of Paul Schneider), published by Heinrich Vogel, 
Berlin, 1953; PORTMANN (Heinrich): Kardinal von 
Galen, ein Gottesmann seiner Zeit (Cardinal von 
Gden, a Churchman of his Time)', 2nd edition, 
Miinster, 1950. 

20. KREUTZBERG (Heinrich) : Franz Reinisch, ein Martyrer 

unserer Zeit (Franz Reinisch, a Martyr of our Time); 
Limburg, 1952; ARETIN (Erwein Freiherr von) : Fritz 
Michael Gerlich, Ein Martyrer unserer Tage (Fritz 
Michael Gerlich, a Martyr of Our Days); Munich, 
1949. 

21. Examples are: Poems by Hans Lehnert and Hilde 

Meisel, Hamburg, 1950; METZGER (Max Josef): 
Gefangenschaftsberichte (Reports from Prison); intro- 
duced and published by Hannes Backer, Meitingen 
bei Augsburg, 2nd edition 1948. 

22. BONHOEFFER (Dietrich): Widerstand und Ergebung: 

Brief e und Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft (Resistance 
and Humility: Letters and Notes from Prison)-, Eber- 
hard Bethge, Munich, 1951; Auf dem Wege zur 
Freiheit, Dietrich und Klaus Bonhoeffer, Gedichte und 
Brief e aus der Haft, Berlin, 1946. 
268 



23. SCROLL (Inge): Die Weisse Rose (The White Rose)-, 

Frankfurt, 7th edition 1952. 

24. Kurt Huber zum Gedachtnis, Bildnis eines Menschen, 

Denkers und Forschers (In Memory of Kurt Huber : 
Portrait of a Man, a Thinker and a Scholar); by his 
friends; published by Clara Huber, Regensburg, 1947. 

25. THADDEN-TRIEGLAFF (Reinhold von): Auf Verlorenem 

Posten? : Ein Laie erlebt den evangelischen Kirchen- 
kampf in Hitlerdeutschland (A Lost Cause? : a layman 
witnesses the struggle of the Protestant Church in 
Hitlers Germany); Tubingen, 1948; LILJE (Hanns) : Im 
Finsteren Tal (In the Valley of Shadows); Niirnberg, 
1947. 

26. MOLTKE (Helmuth James Graf von) : Letzte Brief e aus 

dem Gefdngnis Tegel (Last Letters from Tegel 
Prison); Berlin, 4th edition 1953. 

27. STELTZER (Theodor): Von deutscher Politik, Doku- 

mente Aufsatze und Vortrdge (Documents^ Articles 
and Lectures concerning German Politiks); publ. 
Friedrich Minssen, FranldFurt-am-Main, 1949. 

28. LEBER (Julius): Ein Mann geht seinen Weg (A Man 

goes on his Way), writings, speeches and letters of 
Julius Leber; compiled and published by his friends, 
Berlin, 1952. 

29. Blick in die Welt, Numbers 7, 9, 10, 11; publ. Kasimir 

Edschmid, Darmstadt, 1947; ZUCKMAYER (Carl): Carlo 
Mierendorff, Portrdt eines deutschen Sozialisten 
(Carlo Mierendorff, Portrait of a German Socialist); 
Berlin, 1947. 

30. HARNACK (Axel von): Ernst von Harnack, 1888-1945: 

ein Kampfer fur Deutschlands Zukunft (Ernst von 
Harnack, 1888-1945: a Fighter for the Future of 
Germany); Schwenningen-am-Neckar, 1951. 

31. HENK (Emil) : Die Tragodie des 20 Juli 1944, ein Beitrag 

zur politischen Vorgeschichte (The Tragedy of 20 Juli 
1944 : a Retrospective Contribution); Heidelberg, 2nd 
edition 1946; SCHLOTTERBECK (Friedrich) : Je dunJder 
die Nacht, desto heller die Sterne (The Darker the 
Night, the Brighter the Stars), memoirs of a German 
working man; Zurich, 1945 and Berlin, 1948. 

32. For example : BRAUBACH (Max) : Der Weg zum 20 Juli, 

a report of his research work, published in Veroffent- 



lichungen der Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Forschung des 
Landes Nordrhein Westfalen, No. 13 (1953) and also 
a supplement to Das Parlament, 15 July 1953; CONZE 
(Werner): Die deutsche Opposition gegen Hitler, 
published in Politische Literatur 5/6 (1953), pp. 210- 
215; STADTMULLER (Georg): Zur Geschichte der 
Deutschen Militdropposition 1938-1945 (On the His- 
tory of German Military Resistance, I9S8-I94S); pub- 
lished in Saeculmn IV, No. 4 (1953), pp. 437-449. 



270 



this 

book 

was 

presented 

to 

the people 

of Kansas City 

as a gift 

f TO m THB (SESBMAN CONSPIATE